We all know by now that the internet consumes quite a bit of energy. Some fun initiatives like Blackle (Black Google) spawned to create some awareness. But this I didn't know; a large contributor to the web's energy consumption is web advertisement. Your typical banner guzzles energy. However, this energy is not used by the company that hosts the website but by the consumer’s PC. Bachelor’s student Randy Simons from the University of Twente was curious to find out the exact amount consumed and calculated that it was equal to that of 2000 households.

In an attempt to attract visitors, websites often use colourful adverts featuring animations. Randy Simons, a computer science student at the University of Twente, wanted to find out if such marketing ploys also consumed more energy. He used a special programme that enabled him to switch off the web advertisements when required. He then attached an energy meter to the computer to measure the differences between surfing the internet with web advertisements and without.

2000 households

The measurements revealed that energy consumption when displaying web advertisements reached an average 2.5 Watts. Current statistics show that the Dutch surf the internet a combined total of 2.7 billion hours a year. Simons used this data to calculate that the total energy consumption associated with web advertisements is equal to the total electricity consumption of almost 2000 households in the Netherlands.

Use Firefox!

One more surprising fact: Simons studied different browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari, and different types of computers ranging from laptops to powerful PCs. He discovered that the difference between the sorts and types of computers was minimal compared to the difference between browsers. Internet Explorer, for example, uses 40% more energy for web advertisements than Firefox.

Read the full article entitled 'The Hidden Energy Cost of Web Advertising' in digital format.

Via UTwente