More than two thirds of German online users do not pay attention to energy consumption when streaming videos

04/02/2020

  • Current, representative E.ON survey on Internet usage and energy consumption presented
  • Many prepared to rethink online consumption for climate protection
  • Tips for climate-friendly streaming

High power consumption in data centers due to video streaming is not a major issue for more than two thirds of Germans, results of a recent representative survey conducted by the Kantar opinion research institute on behalf of E.ON show. 71 percent of online users have no awareness of this or simply ignore their high consumption of electricity.

Today, videos account for 80 percent of global data traffic. Germans alone streamed almost five billion hours’ worth of films and series from the internet last year.

Those surveyed were divided in their willingness to rethink their own internet usage for climate protection. Of the group without knowledge of the connection between high energy consumption and streaming, 57 percent were prepared to change their behavior in the future. However, 42 percent said that they did not want to limit their consumption of Netflix, Sky or Amazon Prime Video for reasons of climate protection. Almost half of the group of people who were aware of the connection between streaming and electricity consumption were not prepared to change their behavior, while the other half were already trying to stream as little content as possible.

The majority of Germans consider their internet usage to be at the limit. 54 percent of all respondents stated they would not use the internet any more frequently in the future than they do today. 29 percent assumed their internet consumption will increase, while only 15 percent assumed they will be online less than at present.

The results of the survey also show that most Germans underestimate the power requirements of data centers. It is widely known that data centers are among the largest consumers of electricity. However, in an estimate of whether data centers in Germany consume as much electricity as a city of 25,000, 100,000 or 4 million inhabitants, only 41 percent guessed the highest and therefore correct value. 9 percent equated the consumption with a city of 25,000 inhabitants, 33 percent assumed data centers use as much power as 100,000 inhabitants. "There is a vital need to identify carbon emissions of the internet usage in order to take preventive measures. We believe that there is a great potential to make data centres energy efficient and carbon neutral. At E.ON Business Solutions we provide the energy services to get to zero carbon," said Anthony Ainsworth, CEO of E.ON Business Solutions.

But according to E.ON, every individual can do something to reduce their CO2 emissions when streaming. For example, streaming doesn't always have to be in 4K or 8K quality. For most videos, a lower resolution is enough, which creates significantly less power consumption in data centers. It's both family and climate friendly when the family watches a film or series together rather than individually. Also, if you just want to listen to music and be climate friendly, you should avoid YouTube. The website always plays a video as well, which unnecessarily increases data transfer. There is, however, the possibility to compensate for your own CO2 emissions. Various providers calculate individual CO2 consumption and invest the equivalent value in international climate projects.

During streaming, energy consumption does not only occur in data centers. Retrieving content on your home TV, laptop, tablet or smartphone also requires electricity. The rule is: the larger the screen, the higher the power consumption. Anyone who wants to watch films and series in and save energy should therefore use a smartphone or tablet. For example, a customer who surfs the internet and streams films for one or two hours a day needs only around four kWh of electricity per year with a smartphone, i.e. around 1.20 euros in energy costs. Anyone streaming for the same amount of time on a current, larger TV set will need around 50 kilowatt hours (kWh), or just under 15 euros per year.

In a current social media campaign, E.ON explains the connection between the internet and energy consumption. Under the headline "no internet is not a solution either", the aim is not to limit quality of life, but to make a green internet possible. To this end, E.ON supplies data centers with green energy from wind, PV or fuel cells and uses waste heat from data centers to heat residential areas. Further information about data centers and energy consumption is available at www.eon.com/green-internet.

This press release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by E.ON Group Management and other information currently available to E.ON. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. E.ON SE does not intend, and does not assume any liability whatsoever, to update these forward-looking statements or to align them to future events or developments.