Cut your carbon with green website hosting

Man wearing black beanie hat sits in coffee shop working at laptop

How much energy is your website burning? 

When we think about conserving energy and reducing our carbon footprint, most of us think about insulating our homes, recycling, or perhaps saving dinner scraps for the compost bin. Few of us think about the impact of our business websites and our digital activities.

The internet accounts for 2% of all global greenhouse gas emissions — equivalent to the carbon footprint of the aviation industry. 

Boston Consulting Group

But your digital footprint offers great potential for reducing your carbon emissions, improving the customer experience, and possibly cut costs too. 

We’ve teamed up with Connect Earth to investigate some of the swaps that your business can make to cut carbon emissions. 

Tide + Connect Earth

Connect Earth is an environmental data company that uses data-driven APIs to show you the carbon footprint associated with your spending within your Tide app.

Tide and Connect Earth are working on a joint project whereby Connect Earth’s dataset is used in conjunction with the transactions processed through Tide to identify the best ways that you can become more environmentally friendly.

After an analysis of the transaction data, we discovered the most popular website hosting companies amongst our members… however, many of these did not report their emissions, or their efforts to be more green. Interestingly, the environmentally friendly (and cost-effective) hosting companies were not as popular. This suggests that many Tide customers could switch to green hosting companies, and still benefit from secure, reliable, and affordable web hosting. 

But first, let’s explore why this is a big issue…

Why does website hosting cause carbon emissions?

Loading up a website requires energy to power up the servers that keep the websites running. Overall, energy consumption and emissions from the internet are gigantic. In total, the internet uses more electricity than the whole of the United Kingdom (416.2 terawatt hours).

The sources of website energy consumption, and therefore website emissions, can be broken into three parts: 

  1. Data centres (web hosts) that store the website content 
  2. Transmission networks that allows the user and the data centre to communicate
  3. User devices 

The content of websites is stored in data centres. This is where a significant chunk of website-related emissions occur, as electrical power is used to run the servers, as well as the computer systems for management, the cooling systems and more.

Emissions from websites infographic

Emissions from websites infographic

We have handpicked some of the best eco-friendly web-hosting services currently available, which we’ll explore below. 

Reduce your carbon footprint online 

Given the vastness of the Internet’s energy consumption, we all have the potential to reduce digital waste and improve the efficiency of the web. 

There are three simple things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint online: 

  1. Switch to a green web host
  2. Optimise your website
  3. Reduce your digital clutter and e-waste

Let’s look at these in a little more depth.

1: Switch to a green web hosting company

More and more hosting companies are recognising their central role in the Internet’s energy consumption, and are offering green alternatives that rely on renewable energy sources. Some firms also use tactics like carbon offsets or tree planting to counterbalance the impact of their commercial activities. 

Here are three highly-regarded green hosting companies that are worth considering.

Eco Hosting

Eco Hosting is one of the first hosting companies to offset their carbon emissions for both data centres and offices. Their UK-based data centres are powered by renewable energy and cooled using the famously brisk British weather.

Green House Web Hosting

Green House uses tree planting to offset their carbon emissions, as well as highly efficient servers. For every hosting package, they plant up to 4 trees every month near their own premises in Ransom Wood Business Park in Nottinghamshire. 

Green Geeks

With data centres located in Chicago, Phoenix, Toronto, Montreal and Amsterdam, Green Geeks claim to return 3 times the amount of power they use, in the form of renewable energy. They also work with One Tree Planted to plant a single tree for every new hosting account. 

2: Optimise your website speed

If your website loads slowly, you might be losing customers just as fast as you’re wasting energy. 

One of the key contributors to a website’s carbon footprint is page load speed. Faster websites are typically better for the planet. Website speed should be front of mind for your bottom line as well. A Google study found that website visitors become increasingly likely to leave a website the longer it takes to load.

Speed is so critical to the user experience that Google uses speed as a factor when ranking websites for search results. Fast websites rank a lot higher than slow websites. Research by QuBit suggests that slow loading websites cost retailers £1.73 billion in lost sales each year.

Infographic showing effect of page speed on carbon footprint

Infographic showing effect of page speed on carbon footprint

Whichever way you look at it, a fast website is a must-have for your business. 

You can optimise your website by:

  • Caching webpages
  • Compressing image files
  • Using efficient file formats

If you’re not sure where to begin, your web host may have advice on how to speed up your website. 

3: Reduce digital waste

Many of us make the mistake of thinking that anything digital is also ‘green’ because it hasn’t been printed. But this ignores the masses of computers that are running 24/7 to create these digital experiences. 

In his book World Wide Waste, consultant Gerry McGovern urges us all to wake up to the immense waste attached to our digital detritus. “Every time I download an email I contribute to global warming. Every time I tweet, do a search, check a webpage, I create pollution. Digital is physical. Those data centres are not in the Cloud. They’re on land in massive physical buildings packed full of computers hungry for energy. It seems invisible. It seems cheap and free. It’s not. Digital costs the Earth.”

Your business can waste less energy by: 

  • Reducing clutter and unused pages on your website
  • Deleting old and unnecessary files
  • Using fewer apps and deleting unused software.

After years of encouraging people to stop printing emails, perhaps we need to start encouraging people to delete emails that no longer serve a purpose. Of course, deleting corporate files must be done with care and consideration for legal requirements. But many companies can reduce their costs simply by paying for less digital storage. Not to mention the benefit to the planet.

Go green with Tide

As well as helping our customers make green choices, here at Tide we are working towards being Net Zero. Stay tuned for more information on this, and other insights from our collaboration with Connect Earth in due course.

Caroline Wire

Senior Small Business Copywriter

Tide Team

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