I was wondering about the enegry cost of email, what with all the spam and huge attachments these says (especially annoying, the 5MB “Me too!” replies).
Michael Turrin did a little math using figures from an old Guardian article, see below, and came up with an energy cost of 5Wh per MB for each email, which is like running a 40W equivalent LED bulb for an hour.
So now I’m seeing a kickstarter for a “Green Email Plugin,” which visualizes the energy cost of your currently being composed email in terms of hour-equivalent 40W LED bulb icons. The goal of course is to reduce the number of icons before you hit Send.
From: Michael Turri
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2015
You know, I just found some pretty good, but dated info on The Guardian, quoting McAfee in 2010. (The search for MB per kWh comes up pretty thin…) Jeremy, do you have an good intel on the embodied energy in a mb of data transfer?
According to research by McAfee, a remarkable 78% of all incoming emails are spam. Around 62 trillion spam messages are sent every year, requiring the use of 33bn kilowatt hours (KWh) of electricity and causing around 20 million tonnes of CO2e per year.
By my calculations, that’s 0.5Wh per spam email of, guessing, 100kb. So, maybe 5Wh per MB? Pretty old data, probably more efficient now, but still. That is a 40W equivalent LED bulb for an hour. Hmmm…
BTW, here’s the Guardian article: