Yes they actually do. Data Centers use nearly 3% of the electricity consumed in the US and up to 50 times the electricity of a standard office. Considering most offices consist of a few computers and some lights turned on it comes as no surprise that a data center uses 50 times as much energy.
The evidence confirms that yes, when you do a Google search that search costs energy. Even if you have a very energy efficient computer, solar panels on your roof, etc. you are a part of the energy consuming masses.
For every 1 watt of energy your computer uses the internet data centers are using about 2 watts of energy to support your online activity. In reality you are in fact a great contributor to this electricity consumption circle of life.
Of course you have to consider the benefit to humans for using all this energy. We get to learn new things in record time but also consider most people on the internet are watching TMZ videos, endlessly browsing on Facebook, looking at porn, and playing networked video games.
Data center electricity usage doubled between years 2000 and years 2005. Now consider that the U.S. government is creating the largest data center known to man that will house video surveillance, every single voice communication spoken in this country and likely other countries, as well as the possible hack into your homes smart TV video system.
The largest ever data center ever created that will soon bump up that electricity consumption number is simply called the Utah Data Center and is being built for the US National Security Agency (NSA).
The advertised purpose of this data center is to intercept, decipher, analyse and store large quantities of the world’s communications from satellites and underground and undersea cables of international, foreign and domestic networks.
This 2 billion dollar complex will be fully operational by September 2013. As we as a nation become more and more data intensive by storing every single video we take of our kids, family, and friends on the cloud we will only add to this electricity consumption problem.
In reality though is this really a problem. I for one love storing my videos online to access later. I also make backups of my pictures and videos on CD’s for extra security. I have learned a lot of things by browsing the internet and have kept up with friends and family almost daily by using Facebook.
I have also found great benefit in using the online advertising platforms that both Google and Facebook offer to sell electricity service to those in Texas and the U.S.
Even though we are finding ways to be more efficient and simply use less electricity it is predicted that data center electricity consumption will increase 9 % per year until 2020.
It’s time to put down the hipster glasses and close the Macbook pro and take an honest look at ourselves. You may not be the green environmentalist you have always thought yourself to be.