6 Things You’d Never Guess About Google’s Energy Use

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Google has ended a long silence about how much energy the company needs to operate, and how much power many of its popular services consume. Thanks to a new website, a pair of blog posts and a story in the New York Times, we’ve now got a treasure trove of data on the amount of energy it takes to run Google.

Here are some fun facts on Google’s energy use:

Google uses enough energy to continuously power 200,000 homes

Google’s many data centers around the world burn through 260 million watts—one quarter of the output of a nuclear power plant—the New York Times reports. The company had been cagey about revealing energy usage stats in the past, probably because it didn’t want to reveal to competitors how quickly its data centers were growing. It’s no longer a secret that Google needs a crazy amount of data centers to keep things running smoothly.

(MORE: Google Hires Fancy Green-Friendly Architects to Build Fancy Green-Friendly Office)

Google accounts for roughly 0.013 percent of the world’s energy use

Data centers in general are responsible for 1.3 percent of the world’s electricity consumption, according to one estimate, and Google says it accounts for a mere one-hundredth of that statistic. Do the math. The company claims that its data centers are twice as energy-efficient as most others.

One Google search is equal to turning on a 60W light bulb for 17 seconds

Google says it spends about 0.0003 kWh of energy on an average search query, translating to roughly 0.2g of carbon dioxide. Related fact: searching the web 100 times is equivalent to drinking 1.5 tablespoons of orange juice, Google says. That’s hard work!

YouTube can stream for three days on the energy it takes to make a DVD

That stat includes manufacturing, packaging and delivery of the DVD, Google says. One minute of streaming YouTube video consumes 0.0002 kWh of energy, which is about the same amount of energy your body uses in eight seconds.

One year of Gmail is as efficient as a message in a bottle

Google’s just getting silly with this statistic. With the 2.2 kWh that each Gmail user demands per year, Google says you could chug a 750 mL bottle of wine, stuff a letter into it and toss it into the ocean (trip to remote island not included).

Google’s carbon footprint is zero (after offsets)

No, Google doesn’t get all of its energy from wind farms and solar panels. But to make up for the 1.46 million metric tons of carbon dioxide that Google emits every year—mostly from purchased energy to power its data centers—the company buys and generates its own renewable energy or purchases carbon offsets (essentially, funding green efforts elsewhere). The company invests in enough renewable energy to power more than 350,000 homes.

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