Ever wonder how you can help the environment online? Of course using recyclable materials for printing projects, watching the amount of e-mails you print out, and reusing scrap paper are ways to help the environment. But there are also ways to do so online. Here are some guidelines for a greener web.

guidelines for a greener webFact: From 2003 to 2009 the average web page size has grown from 93.7K to over 507K

What does this mean exactly? Although technology regarding image compression has gotten much better since 2003, we are actually taking up more space per page on the web. Perhaps because connection speeds have increased, people have become less weary of throwing large images on the page. It’s going to load quickly enough, so why bother compressing the image for the web? Another culprit is that websites have become richer in content: interactive, dynamic content. These flashy slideshows, videos, and animations look great, but they also use more web resources.

Statistics / Facts / Guidelines for a Greener Web

  • By turning off your computer each night or when not in use (i.e. lunch times, weekends, when in meetings at night) for a year you save as much energy as it takes to run your microwave 24 hours a day for a week.
  • Dr. Alex Wissner-Gross has researched the environmental impact of computing. His 2009 research indicates that viewing a simple web page generates about 20 milligrams of CO2 per second. –From Smashing Magazine
  • In 1997, 90% of videos were under 45 seconds in length (Acharya & Smith 1998). By late 2007, the median video weighed in at over 63MB in file size. On YouTube, the average video size is 10MB, with over 65,000 new videos added every day”.-studies published at websiteoptimization.com
  • Boston-based green computing consultant Mark Ontkush has published the EMERGY-C low wattage color palette which is claimed to consume only 3 to 4 watts more than an all black page.
  • Nine percent of Internet traffic is due to e-mail. Seventy-five percent is due to file sharing.

What Can We Do?

I’m sure you’re thinking… “Wow, that’s really intense, but what can I actually do about my own website?” Here’s a few things that you CAN do to help reduce your carbon footprint.

Load Time - The quicker your website loads, the less energy will be used up. Simple layouts and correctly optimized images can make your page load more quickly. Read more about clever JPEG and PNG Optimization Techniques.

Keep your Navigation Simple - Every time a page on your site loads, it uses more energy. By limiting the number of website links on your page, you can do your part to help the environment and save energy.

Limited Color Palette - there’s definite controversy surrounding this theory, but the principle is based on the fact that different colors consume different amounts of energy on computer monitors (black being a more “efficient” color than “white”). Check out the Emergy-C low wattage color palette for more information.

Standby Mode for your website - just as your computer monitor “falls asleep” after “x” amount of down time, there are also ways to set up your website to go into a similar sleep mode. This would reduce the amount of energy used to view your page while your visitor may be surfing the web on another tab or browser. Online Leaf has developed a WordPress Plugin that installs a green standby engine on blogs.

Renewable Web Hosting Options - There are also web hosting options that use 100% renewable energy to store your website. They use wind and solar-power to host your site. Contact us for more information.

Remove Unnecessary Files from your Web Server! While it’s really easy to keep files on your web host for easy access… do you really need to store these files online? If the files are on your web server, even while you aren’t using them, they are stored on external servers in data centers and need to be kept cool. Put them onto a flash drive or delete them altogether. There are also tools that can help you with your search for unused files.

Make Printing your Webpage Articles Easier- When you try to print a page from some websites, huge amounts of paper and ink are wasted due to the layout of the site, the amount of graphics, and the colors. Offering your site visitors a “printer-friendly” version can give you the power to spread your eco-friendly behavior onto others, without them even knowing it!

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