The processing of data takes enormous amounts of energy, and web hosts are required to use energy-consuming servers and network equipment day and night, year-round.
This is an unavoidable aspect of living in a technologically advanced society. Some hosts however, are attempting to mitigate the loss of energy, carbon emissions, and impact that all of this technology has on our planet. These hosts are known as eco-friendly hosts, or green web hosts. There are 10 important things to know about green web hosting, to stay informed and be an earth-friendly web administrator.
1. Energy Efficient Hardware
While significant energy use is inherently necessary in running websites and Internet technologies, many hosts are now using energy-efficient hardware and practices. Many hardware devices offer Energy Star and other third party compliance verification, so hosts can know they’re purchasing maximally efficient devices.
2. Green Hosts Can Save You Money
Nearly everyone is concerned about the environment today, but many don’t realize that it’s not the only reason to go green. In fact, web hosts who implement green technologies end up paying less in electric and utility bills. This savings is often passed on to the consumer, allowing green hosts a competitive pricing advantage.
3. Green Hosting Certifications
Did you know you can verify the validity of a web host’s claims of being eco-friendly? Simply look for one of the numerous green hosting certifications on their website or hosting terms. The most sought after of these certifications include Energy Star, which is often used for computers and monitors, and Carbon Neutralization certification which shows the host is truly carbon-neutral.
4. Renewable Energy
The source of energy used by your web host can make a difference in how green they are rated to be. Green web hosts often take advantage of renewable energy for at least part of their energy supply. This is made possible by buying from utility companies who supply wind and solar power directly through the power grid. If a host isn’t situated in a location with renewable energy, they can actually create it by installing solar panels or even wind turbines, and generating their own energy. Many hosts choose to allow solar panels to power a portion of their devices, with regular power or battery backups to guard against potential downtime.
5. Green Web Hosting Protocols
Green web hosting isn’t all about the hardware and energy sources, though those are immeasurably important. Another factor to look at when choosing a green host is the companies green protocols. This determines how the companies behave when facing decisions that could impact the environment and energy consumption. These decisions include recycling, using eco-friendly materials, and reducing company waste.
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6. Shared vs. Dedicated Hosting
One method of hosting that is significantly greener than others is shared hosting. With shared hosting you are storing your website on a server next to other sites. The host can then use that servers to its peak efficiency. With dedicated hosting, your site gets its own server, and that server needs to be powered on at full energy regardless of how much of it you are utilizing. If your site is using less than the maximum resources available from a dedicated server, it may be using less energy than it could, but it’s still not as green as utilizing a shared hosting plan. Check to see if your host offers shared hosting, which is also typically less expensive than dedicated hosts.
7. Carbon Neutral Hosting
Traditional energy sources like coal and gas are non-renewable, meaning they are in limited supply. They also emit a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which causes detrimental effects on the climate and environment. To mitigate this affect on the earth on its inhabitants, many hosts strive to become carbon neutral. This can be accomplished reducing dependency on carbon-emitting energy sources, and by growing trees and plants that consume the harmful carbon emissions and convert them to clean air. Web hosts often offset their carbon usage by purchasing credits that go toward planting forests in remote areas. Hosts and companies who fight to convert as much or more carbon than they emit are considered carbon-neutral.
Web hosts have many opportunities to reduce e-waste, and become greener companies. Hosts with green initiatives often include a recycling plan to accomplish just this. Recycling old equipment rather than disposing of it, can reduce the amount of computer chips, plastics and metals that sit in landfills worldwide. E-waste includes any electronic device that is discarded without being recycled. Look for hosts who have E-waste reduction plans and good recycling programs.
9. Keeping Cool to Go Green
Part of being energy efficient is dealing with heat loss and keeping the hosting equipment cool so it can run efficiently. Of course, air conditioning is expensive and consumes massive energy. Many hosts combat this requirement for extreme cooling by placing their servers underground, where they are shielded from external heat sources. Another aspect of keeping cool to save energy is finding creative ways to release heat produced by the hosting servers. For this, many hosts implement aluminum fans and air duct systems to transfer unwanted heat out of the server rooms, and sometimes into office areas where it may be desired.
10. Self Service Hosting
Part of saving energy and money is allowing your customers to service their own accounts, wherever possible. Many web hosts accomplish this by having an online portal where you can change and update billing, personal information, and get answers to commonly confronted issues. When you need to speak to someone at the host, try using the online chat which is sometimes more energy-efficient in terms of labor and cost. By reducing the need for redundant phone calls, and unnecessary restrictions on account servicing, many hosts are able to pass on the savings while staying greener.
Choosing a host that cares about energy efficiency is important for the environment, and can actually help save you money. As energy conservation becomes more important to consumers and web developers, you can expect more hosts to move toward green hosting in the coming years.