Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ecological footprint of a Google search

Recently, I expressed my doubt about some of the figures being floated for the power consumed every time you search for something at Google. Now, Die Zeit (the German newspaper which also reported the original estimate I found exaggerated) has revised the figure. It now appears that a 60-watt light bulb would not be able to run for an hour on the same amount of electricity, but rather only for 18 seconds.

Let's now put that into perspective: if you look something up once a minute, that's like consuming around 20 watts all the time. But if you do so once every 20 minutes, it's like consuming one watt all the time. Anything less than one search every 20 minutes around the clock is consuming less electricity than some old cheap toaster or other kitchen appliance probably drains off the power socket all the time.

If you really want to conserve electricity, the Internet is not the place to start as a consumer. You would want to start with all of these standby units and "leaking" home appliances.

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