How to efficiently reduce hosting energy consumption & carbon footprint

Meryam Lehoufa
Meryam Lehoufa   -   October 13th, 2021
Server racks behind solar panels and windmills

Data centers are gaining increasing importance as an indispensable part of modern computing infrastructures. According to Researches and Markets, the Global Data Center Infrastructure market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.79% during the forecast period, reaching a total market size of US$230.169 billion in 2025 from US$155.201 billion in 2019.

Data centers are physical facilities where computing and networking equipment are located and centralized. They host servers and associated components, such as storage systems and network communications. The main role of a data center is to collect, store, process, and distribute large amounts of data.

Over the years, data centers have evolved from centralized on-premises facilities to edge deployments to public cloud services, and they are now critical components of modern IT infrastructure. However, this growth in importance is also accompanied by increasing concern regarding the energy consumption of these facilities. In total, the global internet consumes 416.2 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, which is more electricity than the whole of the United Kingdom. This translates into large amounts of carbon emissions. In fact, 2% of global carbon emissions come from the electricity used by the internet, which is mainly consumed by data centers.

According to widely cited energy forecasts, the total electricity demand of information and communication technology (ICT) will accelerate in the 2020s, and data centers will take a larger slice. This implies that their environmental impact will increase as well. If we add to that the rising energy costs, it becomes obvious that businesses and organizations need to efficiently address data centers’ energy consumption issues in order to cut costs and promote environmental responsibility.

On average, servers and cooling systems account for the greatest shares of direct power use in data centers as shown in the figure below.


In this article, we'll cover efficient ways that can help reduce servers’ energy consumption and how Redakt can foster your efforts towards having a performant yet server-friendly website.

The volume of workloads that a data center processes and the total number of servers required to process the workloads are the main factors that determine how much energy those servers will consume. However, so much energy is wasted due to the fact that servers run idle or at low utilization. Servers usually don’t employ any energy-saving mechanisms like spin-down idle disks or standby, and 60% of a typical database server’s peak energy is consumed when idle.

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the efficient ways that can help reduce servers’ energy consumption.

Consolidating and virtualizing servers to maximize server utilization

Most physical servers run at about 5% to 15% utilization, yet they draw full power. In order to increase server utilization and reduce wasted energy, most companies and organizations use server consolidation and virtualization.

Server virtualization aims at reducing electrical consumption by lowering the number of physical servers. Virtualization is the process of creating and abstracting multiple virtual servers on a single physical server host via software, each virtual server runs independently. This operation is done using a hypervisor that serves as a platform for the virtual servers’ operating systems while keeping the environments totally private and separate from each other.

Virtualization and consolidation go hand in hand, and that’s because the former is the enabler of the latter. Consolidating multiple, independent servers to a single physical server enables those servers to operate more efficiently and reduces energy costs by up to 80%.

Killing zombie / comatose servers

Zombie or comatose servers are a very common issue in data centers. In fact, it’s estimated that 25% of all physical servers and 30% of all virtual servers are comatose. These are servers that have had no activity in the last six months yet they remain powered on drawing full amounts of power and maybe even consuming expensive IT licenses. Zombie servers are considered as one of the major causes of undesirable power consumption that increases non-computing energy.

Spotting zombie servers can be a daunting task. However, ignoring the energy consumption of these servers that serve no useful purpose leaves a significant proportion of energy waste unnoticed. In order to deal with this issue properly, it's recommended to deploy monitoring tools that can help identify mission-critical servers and to keep everything appropriately documented.

Replacing old servers with new, more energy-efficient hardware servers

Older servers require more power to run and to cool. According to The Environmental Protection Agency, old servers consume 60% of a data center's energy but deliver only 4% of its processing power. A typical server has a 5-year lifecycle of working at optimal performance once it’s purchased and installed. Replacing old servers with new, more energy-efficient ones can save a lot of energy.

Replacing old servers must, however, be secured. Therefore, careful IT asset disposal must be implemented.

Reducing website energy consumption

It may sound strange that websites can have a significant effect on the amount of total energy consumed by servers and, eventually, data centers. But according to Website Carbon Calculator, the average website that it tested uses about 1.76 grams of CO2 per page view, which equals 211 KG per year for a site that gets 10,000 page views per month.

Every time a website loads, it uses computing power at the server to generate a certain page, network power to transfer it, and device power to render that page on the browser. So in order to minimize that energy, the website needs to load as fast as possible. Simply put, low-performing websites are another major cause behind energy-sucking servers.
According to HTTPArchive.org, the average web page today is nearly four times the size that it was in 2010 and is continuing to rise. However, making a website more energy efficient doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on good design (i.e good user experience) as many would think.

There are many efficient ways that can make a website consume minimum energy to reduce its carbon footprint. Such as:

  • Image optimization
    Images account for about 50% of the average web page’s file size. reducing images’ size can result in a big reduction in the amount of data that a server needs to transmit. This in turn reduces the amount of energy consumed by the server and speeds up load times.
  • Gzip compression
    Gzip compression reduces a website’s file size by up to 70%. As a result, the server takes less time and consumes less energy to transmit them.
  • Reducing video
    Video provides a more engaging user experience. However,  it is by far the most processing-intensive and data-intensive form of content. When having a certain number of videos on the website is really necessary, the number of streaming videos can be reduced by removing the video auto-play function and by keeping those videos short.
  • Page or HTTP caching
    Page caching aims at reducing the processing work that a server needs to perform in order to serve up a website. It works by temporarily storing website data such as JavaScript files, images, stylesheets, and similar content when a web page is loaded for the first time so it can quickly load that content when that page is visited again. This makes the website load faster and saves bandwidth and energy.
  • Code minification
    Caching might not be enough to decrease the loading time of a web page, that’s where code minification comes in. Code, meaning JS, HTML, and CSS, minification is an optimization technique that reduces the size of JavaScript, CSS, and HTML files by stripping out comments, unnecessary whitespace, line-breaks, or extra characters from the source code. Code optimization also eliminates round-trip data transfer by reducing HTTP requests. Once minified, files become lighter, and transferring them becomes faster and less energy-intensive.
  • Using AMP
    Mobile accounts for approximately half of the web traffic worldwide (54.8% of global website traffic), which means that websites need to load fast on mobile devices as well. AMP (accelerated mobile pages) is a technology that strips out unnecessary code and file weight to make content load faster on mobile devices. It delivers a minimalist, more energy-efficient version of the original web page to mobile users.
  • Fonts optimization
    Typography has a significant impact on good web design. Webfonts allow text to be zoomable, selectable, and searchable.  They also provide sharp and consistent rendering on screens with different sizes and resolutions.  However, web fonts impact HTTP requests, page weight, and website speed and thus need to be optimized. In fact, a single font file could be as much as 250kb. Minimizing the size of a website's fonts can reduce file size by up to 97%. Optimizing fonts can be done by using FontLoading API to optimize the critical rendering path, using modern web font file formats like WOFF and WOFF2, etc.
So the good news is that making a website consume less energy goes hand and hand with improving its performance. It's a win-win-win deal for website users, website owners, and the environment.

How Redakt can help to minimize hosting energy consumption

Making a website more energy-efficient may not always be an easy task, especially when good website design and usability are on the line. In order to reduce your website energy consumption without compromising good user experience, a high-performing CMS can be your best ally.

Your CMS choice has a big, direct effect on your website’s overall performance, and the latter impacts your website’s energy consumption. So what features make a CMS boost website performance yet consume fewer resources? Well, they’re the exact features that Redakt has to offer.

Being the only enterprise CMS built from the ground on the cutting-edge .NET 5.0 technology, Redakt renders pages at a very high speed and allows your website to have a blazing fast performance. In this detailed blog post, you can learn more about how Redakt takes page speed to a whole new level thanks to its modern technical architecture that was built with performance in mind from the start.

From smart caching to GZIP compressing to built-in JS, CSS, and HTML minification to automatic image resizing to supported AMP, Redakt offers all the necessary speed optimization tactics that minimize website loading time and make data transfer much faster and less energy-intensive.

In addition, Redakt’s hybrid, API-driven architecture allows for accelerated page loading and serving on both desktop and mobile devices. Meaning that your website can offer a great user experience while still consuming less energy. You can learn more about how a hybrid CMS contributes to great website performance in this blog post.

Compared to most CMSs, Redakt requires significantly fewer server resources thanks to its modern architecture that's highly flexible and optimized for performance. And that's not all; to push energy savings even further, Redakt allows for serverless resource usage (f.e. serverless database consumption) to help you cut your hosting bills. This consumption-based fashion ensures that you’re only charged for the Request Units consumed by your database operations and the storage consumed by your data and that you’re not billed when the website is idle. That's another major reason that makes Redakt both a cost and energy-efficient CMS.

With its speedy rendering pipeline and well-optimized data structure, Redakt can handle page requests in a snap. Server response times are well under 100ms in most scenarios, which beats average real-world web response times by a large margin (see Think with Google).

With Redakt’s unrivaled performance, you can rest assured that your website will be more user-friendly, more server-friendly, more sustainable, and more performant at no extra hosting costs.

See for yourself how you can boost your website performance and cut your energy bills with Redakt. Book a demo here.

Wrapping up

At a time when environmental issues are gaining increased concern and when energy costs are steadily rising, eliminating the waste of energy within the web industry has never been more paramount.

By investing in solutions that were built with website speed optimization and energy-saving tactics in mind, like Redakt CMS, you can ensure optimum energy efficiency and minimum environmental footprint, which all result in better user experience and improved brand reputation.

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