MAR 10, 2017 8:22 AM PST

How much energy do your YouTube binge sessions use?


Go ahead and watch the video. By the end of watching the merely two and a half minute YouTube video, you will have used the equivalent of energy for two Double AA batteries. How does watching something so short use up so much energy? Find out here.

Some of the energy required to watch the video comes from your device itself - whatever screen you're using to view this post - to get physical about it, the actual photons being emitted from the machine in front of you. Laptops consume the equivalent energy of about one Double AA every five minutes. Mobile phones and tablets are a bit more efficient, using one Double AA every half hour. But that energy is only a part of what's required behind your video viewing. The rest is the energy that is used to actually deliver the video to your screen from where the code is stored somewhere on a distant server.

When you click that play button, the zeros and ones that make up the code to process the video must pass through long haul and local networks to reach your router. It is difficult to measure how much energy this delivery process requires, but IT experts estimate that one Double AA battery's worth of energy gives you about 10 MB of data. For a (almost) three minute video like this one, you need about 30 MB of data - or three Double AA batteries of energy.

And that's PER VIEW. Tallying up the 500,000 plus YouTube views that this particular video has, the video has consumed 105.9 household-days of electricity!

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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