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How Much Energy Does Google Use? [Infographic]

When you send an email, watch a video on YouTube, or search the internet, do you ever consider how much energy it costs for Google to execute these actions for you? In fact, have you ever considered how much energy the internet behemoth Google actually uses year in and year out? If you didn’t before, then you certainly will be now; which is where this infographic comes in to play. So how much energy does Google use? Read on to find out exactly how much of the world’s energy resources Google is using. The answer might just surprise you…

How Much Energy Does Google Use? - An infographic by the team at Juice Electrical

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All in all, Google uses enough energy to continuously power a whopping 200,000 homes. Collectively their twelve data centres (which are running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) burn through 260 million watts of energy, which is equal to a quarter of the output of a nuclear power plant – phew!

Whilst this may sound like a lot of energy, a study carried out by Jonathon Koomey in 2011 entitled Growth in Data Center Electricity Use 2005-2010 suggests that data centres across the world, as a whole, use between 1.1 and 1.5% of global electricity. After doing their own research, Google have calculated that they are responsible for about 0.01% of this estimate.

The Small Things That Make Up The Big Picture

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never thought about how much energy it takes to conduct a search in Google, or send an email, or watch a video on YouTube. Surprisingly, a the average energy consumption of a typical user (someone that uses Google search, G+, YouTube and Gmail) is about 180 watt hours a month which, in our terms, is the equivalent of running a 60 watt light bulb for 3 hours.

To break it down even further (and get a little bit more technical), one Google search uses 0.0003kWh of energy, which is the equivalent of turning on a 60 watt lightbulb for 17 seconds. That single search also generates 0.2g of carbon dioxide. Considering that there are over 1 billion searches being conducted during a single day, 125 million watts of Google’s 260-million-watt total can be accounted for by searches.

Love watching those cat videos on YouTube? One minute of streaming a YouTube video consumes 0.0002kWh of energy, which is the same amount of energy your body uses in 8 seconds to keep you alive! During the course of a month, over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube, which works out at roughly one hour of YouTube streaming for every single person on Earth.

Interestingly, you could stream YouTube for 3 days on the energy that it takes to manufacture, package, and deliver a DVD.

Gmail Users Save More Money Than Yahoo Users?

A study carried out by OPower that looked at the correlation between email addresses and electricity usage across 2.8 million American households found that Yahoo users are typically using an average of 939kWh more electricity per year than Gmail users, which equates to spending roughly $110 more on their electricity bills every single year. When you work out the difference between a million Gmail households and a million Yahoo households, the difference is equal to the entire annual electricity consumption of Barbados. That’s right, Barbados! Anyway, we digress…

Coming back to Google’s energy consumption, as well as using enough energy to power 200,000 homes, they also emit 1.46 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Whilst you may be getting ready to light your torches and grab your pitchforks to denounce Google an environmental hazard, it’s worth noting that they actually try incredibly hard to offset their carbon footprint and electricity consumption. They invest in projects that reduce carbon emissions and, after all of their offsets, they actually generate enough energy to power 300,000 homes and their footprint is zero! So it looks like Google aren’t so bad after all…

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