There’s a widely established consensus among scientists that carbon emissions from human activity are a major contributor to climate change. We can now be a bit more specific about some of those humans. Apparently it’s Yahoo Mail and AOL users.
American energy monitoring and management firm Opower studied 2.8 million US homes in 2011. Its results found that AOL users were the highest energy consumers, followed by those using Yahoo Mail. Both were ahead of Hotmail and Gmail users, who were reportedly more frugal.
Focussing on Yahoo Mail and Gmail households (as they are the two most popular domains), the data shows that the former used 11 percent more power than the latter in 2011. That statistically significant difference represents a pretty staggering 939 kilowatt-hours per household for the 12 month period.
As Opower’s blog highlights, that’s enough energy on average for 150 cycles of clothes drying, five hours of TV watching every day of the year and 200 dishwasher loads combined.
ReadWriteWeb quotes Opower’s Berry Fischer, the author of the study, who says that while they expected to find some difference between the homes using various web domains, they were surprised the difference was so substantial.
“We were excited to explore the reasons why there was such a gap,” Fischer told ReadWriteWeb. Opower ruled out climate variations in different states as a differentiator, but it did find that Yahoo Mail users seem to live in bigger places. However, even taking size into account, Yahoo homes consumed more energy per square foot.
Further analysis and cross referencing from other sources (such as Hunch.com) showed that Gmail users tend to be younger and single. “Being young and single means going out more, less time at home; and fewer occupants means less electricity usage,” said Fischer. “By contrast, Yahoo users are more likely to be in relationships and have children.”
Despite that, the report concludes that Gmail users also appear to be more attuned to their general energy use.
In follow-up analysis, Opower revealed that AOL users consumed the most energy in its survey: 18.5 percent more for the year than a Gmail home. This would appear to be affected by location.
AOL users in the US tend to live in the suburbs, says Opower, with even bigger houses than Yahoo Mail users. They also appear to have a greater likelihood of running desktop PCs (which use more juice than laptops and tablets) and owning multiple PVRs, which rarely have a energy-saving deep sleep mode as they are traditionally designed to be in a state of permanent readiness to record from cable or satellite TV.
Opower provides customised energy advice to consumers. The simplest advice, especially if you are one of those ‘power gluttons’ highlighted in the survey, is simply take a good look at all your appliances and gadgets and keep as many of them switched off as possible or change them for something more efficient.