Are you aware of the ecological impact and carbon (CO2) footprint of your website?
The internet is huge and it keeps growing every year with more devices, more services and more data. It requires a huge amount of energy to power it all. And that energy leaves a carbon footprint.
Think about all the streaming services and devices you use on a daily basis. Or all the software that requires an internet connection. Your smartphone is probably almost always online. Do you have a smartwatch? And maybe even your car and other smart devices are constantly connected.
We often think of the internet as something abstract, not really tangible or real. But basically, it all translates into a whole lot of interconnected devices, wires, wireless signals and datacenters with loads of servers that all require power to function. And all that energy needs to come from somewhere. Research estimates that by 2025, the IT industry as a whole could use 20% of all electricity produced and be responsible for 5.5% of the world’s carbon emissions.
Research estimates that by 2025, the IT industry as a whole could use 20% of all electricity produced and be responsible for 5.5% of the world’s carbon emissions.
How does your website add to those carbon emissions?
list met alles wat bijdraagt bij energy consumption
To answer this, we need to understand what elements contribute to carbon emissions when browsing the web. That includes:
- Every time a visit occurs on a page and it’s loaded for a user to see. And this compounds (partially) with every subsequent page that a user views.
- The devices that the visitors use consume (computers, tablets, smartphones, smart devices, …) power with every action someone takes and your website can influence the amount of power required to complete those actions.
- All forms of network and their traffic (wired, wireless, cell signals like 4G or 5G,… ) require power to function.
So, everything someone does to look for, visit or take action on your website requires power.
How can you reduce your website’s carbon footprint?
Start with the website itself
An unoptimised website consumes more power. For example: Using large images requires longer to load and therefore requires more energy.
Optimising your website to website to load faster, which you definitely want to do to improve the overall user experience anyway, is a good start.
However, be careful not to take the lazy route when optimising. Adding more memory, CPU power or bandwidth to a webserver will probably speed up loading times but at the same time also increase power consumption. Just throwing bigger and more power-hungry hardware at it, because it’s easy, isn’t the right solution.
Need help decreasing the carbon footprint of your website?
Be mindful when choosing a hosting partner
Fortunately, a lot of hosting and cloud solution providers already run their data centers on green and renewable energy. Be sure to look out for those when picking a partner to host your website and other online services.
Are you curious about your own website’s Carbon footprint?
Visit WebsiteCarbon or Ecograder and test the carbon footprint of your own website. These websites make estimated guesses and combine some statistics and data to determine how much power your website uses.
Below is a badge from WebsiteCarbon with the results for this page:
I am in no way affiliated with or paid by these companies to write this article. However, I feel it is vital to pay attention to how the internet and more specifically our websites have an ecological impact.