Many of us are using technology more now than ever – texting, watching videos, Teams/Zoom – and the devices we use require electricity to charge the batteries in our devices. The networks that carry the signals to and from our devices use electricity, as do the data centers that house and process the content and apps we use.
The source of the electricity to manufacture and run our devices often comes from power plants that burn nonrenewable fuels, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
A gaming computer requires more processing power than a regular computer, using six times as much energy. Gaming in the U.S. uses about $6 billion in electricity annually. That equates to an extra 2.3 million cars on the road. In California, gaming uses more electricity than all the dishwashers in the state!
As California enters summer (and another year of drought), I was thinking about what I could do to take some load off our infrastructure:
- Turn off anti-aliasing settings on the computer. It’s a setting that smooths images.
- Delete games I’m no longer playing so my computer doesn’t auto-update them.
- Put my system to sleep or turn it off when not playing.
- When streaming, use a public wi-fi rather than private when I can. Public networks are more energy efficient.
- Reduce cloud-based gaming (saving to the cloud and working online) since it uses up to 10 times more energy than working offline.
- Keep my current cell phone. Newer versions produce more emissions than what I’ll use from the energy of using the old phone, so delaying that upgrade to hardware is not just procrastinating.
- Unplugging – rather than gaming, scrolling through social media or gaming online, going ‘old school’ – reading a book, going outside or playing a physical game.
There isn’t an easy answer and each of us has our own solution. Even technology designed to conserve energy, like smart watches, or sensors that monitor the air or appliances in our homes, are using energy. One key to reducing the negative impacts of our energy use is knowing the source of energy we are using: Does your home use renewable energy like solar panels or does it run off a grid that may have very little renewable energy as its source or along its transmission lines? Another key to lessening the negative impacts is to simply reduce our use, no matter the source. We can do both. I hope you’ll join the conversation by leaving a comment.
Inspired by visiting www.greeningthebeast.org and ideas from https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/greening-digital-life-computers-phones-gaming-climate-change