Compare Green Hosting
Green hosting is designed to be energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly. These web hosts typically “offset” their energy usage by purchasing wind power or other credits from environmental non-profits.
Not all web hosts who ‘talk green’ are green. To find genuine green hosts, look for providers who are listed on the U.S. government’s EPA Green Power Partner list or on third-party sites like Carbonfund.org.
Here are our experts’ top five picks for best green hosts:
- A2 Hosting – Impressive server speeds, good value, quality support
- InMotion Hosting
How Did We Choose the Top Green Web Hosts?
We combined stringent criteria for green hosting with high-performance hosting, as measured by server speeds, high uptime, strong security, and expert technical support.
We also factored in thousands of user reviews from our database and accounted for the overall value provided by each web host.
What is Green Web Hosting?
Green hosting, or eco-friendly hosting, is web hosting which seeks to mitigate or eliminate the environmental impact of the service it provides.
Most web hosting customers probably don’t worry about the impact on the global climate caused by their website or other online activity.
However, that impact is very real, even though it might seem far away.
Any company seriously committed to lowering its own carbon footprint and ecological impact must take into account the activities of its vendors, and web hosting is no exception.
What is the Environmental Impact of Web Hosting?
The biggest contributing factor to a web host’s overall climate impact is power consumption.
Servers require electricity, as do cooling units.
Below, we will look at a variety of factors that green hosts consider when building an environmentally-conscious company.
Where Does the Power Come From?
In addition to servers, other power needs include:
- Climate control
- Electronic security
- Infrastructure of the physical building
In most places in the U.S. and around the world, electricity is generated by coal-fired power plants.
Green hosts often work to minimize their power consumption and use or buy credits for renewable energy from sources like wind or the sun.
What is the Environmental Impact of Web Server Hardware?
Another source of environmental impact is the manufacturing of server hardware and components, which requires a lot of power but also involves mining, chemical processing, industrial waste production, and global transportation.
Only so much can be done to make these components green, but some hosts buy Energy Star-rated servers to reduce their energy usage.
Land and Construction Considerations
Additional environmental concerns include the amount of land occupied by datacenters and the resources used in their construction.
In order to minimize resources across the board, most green hosts focus on shared hosting, which uses fewer servers, land, and resources in general.
Green Hosting Options
Green web hosts help you reduce your own environmental impact by reducing the environmental impact of the hosting service you consume.
Traditionally, this type of eco-friendly offset has carried an additional cost that only those truly dedicated to the cause would be willing to pay.
Lately, however, that has changed. There are several popular and affordable hosts that are dedicated to minimizing their environmental impact.
Reducing the Environmental Impact of Hosting
Increasingly, web hosting companies are getting more energy-efficient not just for the environment, but simply for their own cost-saving measures. Hey, electricity isn’t free.
There is still a bit of a premium on eco-friendly or green hosting plans, but that price gap is narrowing.
How Does Green Hosting Work?
Green web hosting companies take a number of steps to lower the overall ecological impact of the services they provide.
The exact process each hosting provider takes may vary. But, just like there isn’t a single solution to slowing global warming and reducing your overall carbon footprint, there isn’t a single pathway to becoming a green host.
Below, we examine some of the most common methodologies that green hosting companies take to reduce their carbon footprint.
Energy-Efficient Server Hardware
The bulk of the environmental impact of web hosting is the power used by the physical computers, so the first step in eco-friendly hosting is to use more efficient machines.
A number of design and manufacturing details contribute to the overall efficiency of a physical server, including materials used, internal component layout, and assembly quality. Solid state drives tend to be more energy-efficient than their spinning-disk counterparts because there’s no motor to turn.
Efficient Server Software
The same server uses more energy under a heavy computing load than under a light one.
Servers also get hotter as they use more computing power, so there is an additional cost to cool them back down.
For this reason, inefficient or bloated software — whether at the OS, utility, or application layer — is more detrimental to the environment than fast-executing, efficient code.
Web hosts attempting to reduce their overall energy usage will make sure to use efficient, resource-optimized operating systems and web servers.
It’s worth noting that, no matter where or how you host your websites, optimizing your code and content deliverability has a positive effect on your carbon footprint.
Space-Efficient Account Usage
While it’s true that running a machine at half-load requires less energy than running it fully, two half-loaded boxes use more power than one running at capacity.
That is to say: Running more things on fewer machines is good for the environment.
One study found that the majority of data centers often run their equipment well below capacity, consuming more energy than they need to power more machines than they would ever use.
Intelligent load balancing across a network of connected servers can help reduce the overall number of physical machines needed at any time.
The power used to run machines is only half the problem. The machines have to be cooled down, which can be very energy intensive.
Many environmentally-friendly (and cost-conscious) web hosting companies use some form of natural cooling.
This may involve positioning the data center near a river and using the water as a coolant, sinking geo-thermal heat-exchange loops, or locating the entire building in sub-Arctic regions to take advantage of naturally cold air.
Renewable Energy at Web Hosting Companies
No matter how efficient a datacenter is, it will have to use some electricity. How that electricity is produced is the single biggest factor affecting the carbon footprint of a web hosting company.
Many green hosting companies boast up to 100% of their energy coming from renewable sources, usually wind and solar.
However, often the type of energy the facility consumes has to do with the facility’s location.
Sure, you can throw up solar panels on the roof of your datacenter in Arizona, but not every host will have this ability. So, many hosts have taken up the practice of purchasing green energy credits.
How Do Green Energy Credits Contribute to Green Hosting?
Ensuring the hosting facility is up to the latest energy efficiency standards and sourcing energy from renewable energy providers goes a long way.
However, a lot of hosts take this further by purchasing renewable energy credits in the form of wind power, solar power, or even supporting initiatives like tree planting to help carbon dioxide recycling.
Essentially, they buy clean energy based on their own energy usage to offset their energy consumption from non-green sources.
Beyond minimizing and offsetting energy usage, green hosts will have proper disposal practices in place as well. Computer hardware often contains substances that are harmful to the environment.
So, instead of just dumping it anywhere, certain protocols have to be in place for disposing and recycling certain electronic components.
What are the Benefits of Choosing a Green Host?
People decide to “go green” with their hosting service for a variety of reasons.
The most common is a general concern for the environment, especially since the hosting industry is on par with the airline industry in terms of overall carbon footprint.
However, utilizing green hosting can also help improve your image as a green or environmentally-friendly brand.
Plus, energy efficient hosting environments can lead to cost savings, which can be passed onto the customer.
What Types of Green Hosting are Available?
Most green hosting companies offer a wide array of hosting packages: shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated servers, cloud hosting, WordPress hosting, and even reseller packages.
If you’re looking to go green, you’ll be able to find the perfect green host for your needs.
Shared Hosting: Your Best Bet for Green Hosting?
Ultimately, shared hosting is going to be the greenest style of hosting available, since the maximum server resources will be utilized.
Compare this to something like dedicated hosting where an entire server’s energy will be pointed towards a single site, whether or not they’re being used.
Beware ‘Green-Washed’ Hosting and Questionable Certifications
As consumers have become more aware of the effects of climate change, many businesses have turned to “Green Washing”, or making vague claims about their environmental friendliness, when they are doing nothing to mitigate their actual ecological impact.
Do Their Green Claims Hold Water?
If green hosting is important to you, be sure that you take the time to research the claims made by the hosting company.
Don’t let branding, colors, and vague references fool you.
Look for actual actions.
Look For Proof and Third-Party Certification
A handful of independent certification companies provide verification of the environmental claims made by web hosting companies.
The EPA’s Green Power Partnership is one of the most well-known.
How to Determine if Your Host is Actually Green
- Verify that any green energy certificates have been validated by third-party providers or organizations like the EPA.
- Make sure their renewable energy policy is spelled out clearly and isn’t just a vague reference to ‘green’ policies.
- See if they utilize Energy Star-rated servers for maximum efficiency. Servers consume massive amounts of energy, so this can make a huge difference.
- Ask where their energy comes from. Do they purchase it from renewable sources? Buy credits to replace what they use from the grid with wind power?
- Are they looking for ways to be green beyond their servers and energy usage? For example, are they also trying to minimize the environmental impact in their offices?
What to Look for in a Beginner-Friendly Green Host
When you’re in the market for a green host there are a few things you’ll want to keep an eye out for, especially if this is your first time buying hosting:
- Free domain included with the purchase of hosting
- Bundled website builder for easily building out your site
- Stellar technical support for help with getting your site online
- Unlimited storage, or scalable storage depending upon your site needs
- An easy-to-use control panel, like cPanel
My Top 3 Recommendations for Green Hosts
Ready to get started using a green host?
The compare tool at the top of this page will help you find the perfect green host based on dozens of features.
Or, you can start by exploring one of our favorite green hosts from the list below.
GreenGeeks sets the bar for green hosting by being a 300% renewable energy host.
Basically, GreenGeeks purchases enough renewable energy credits to make up for three companies of a similar size.
Beyond that, you’ll find a variety of hosting packages, which boast unlimited storage space and bandwidth.
iPage is a more recent addition to the green hosting space. It covers its energy usage through the purchasing of renewable energy credits and operating a facility that’s powered by wind energy.
Beyond its green commitment, it offers competitive hosting plans, a free domain, and daily backups.
InMotion has a solid reputation in the hosting space for offering incredible support and educational materials as well as high-performance hosting, all while being very usable.
But, it has also taken large strides to become green across its operations, servers, and datacenters. Plus, it has a super-generous 90-day money-back guarantee. Who could say no to that?
Frequently Asked Questions About Green Hosting
What is green hosting?
Why should I care about green hosting?
What kind of carbon footprint does a non-green web hosting company have?
What kinds of environmentally-friendly features do green hosting companies offer?
What is a REC?
What is energy efficient hardware?
How do green hosting companies cool their data centers?
Is there any kind of certification for green hosting companies?
Is there any downside to purchasing green web hosting?
Compare Popular Web Hosting Plans
Need a great web host? Want to save some time? This shortlist is your best place to begin:
Popular Host Choice for 2022
BlueHostStarting at $2.75/mo View Current Deal
DreamhostStarting at $2.59/mo View Current Deal
A2 HostingStarting at $2.99/mo View Current Deal
SiteGroundStarting at $3.99/mo View Current Deal
GreenGeeksStarting at $2.49/mo View Current Deal
HostingerStarting at $2.59/mo View Current Deal