Green web hosting in 2020: what is it and why you need it [+ top 5 host providers]

Photo of a woman researching green web hosting

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, at no extra cost to you I will receive an affiliate commission.

If you’re reading this then you might already be aware of the huge environmental impact of the internet and you are here because you want to reduce your impact with green hosting. Great! If not, no worries, you are in the right place. It’s not as tangible as car fumes. But the internet’s produces a large share in global greenhouse gas emissions.

This post follows on from my post steps to creating a greener, more eco-friendly business in 2020. In this article, I’m digging deeper on green web hosting which is one of the ways you can be more eco-friendly in your business.

Before we jump into some green hosting options let’s chat quickly about what web hosting is and why you should care about who your host is.

The internet and carbon emissions

Web hosting is when you rent online space from a company to house your website on the World Wide Web. It’s like renting a plot of land. Or, as business owners it’s like renting a (virtual) shop front.

Many web hosting customers and web users are unaware of the impact of using the internet.

There are many reasons the internet uses so much energy (such as manufacturing the energy used running web-based companies). But a big factor is the data servers used to store a website’s content. Keeping these servers cool uses a large amount of energy and produces a significant amount of carbon dioxide.

Already locked into a website contract? Yeah, me too…But I’ve made plans to move to a green web host as soon as it expires. Use this post to get a clearer idea of your options for when you are able to make the shift too (and in the meantime, you can offset your carbon impact of your current host)

As an eco-minded business owner, you can show you are committed to creating change in the world. You can make it clear on your site through your copy that you work with a green hosting company. Some companies also have green tags you can add to your site (e.g. like these)

The exact figures of internet carbon emissions are difficult to measure, as data on the electricity demand of the internet remains poor. But it is estimated that data servers produce around 2% of all carbon emissions, the same as the aviation industry!

But companies are becoming more aware of their carbon footprint. Consumer concern is pushing businesses to get greener and stop greenwashing by only being green on the surface of their business.

Oh no, not another thing to worry about!

Green web hosting can seem pretty complex, but don’t get stuck in information overload. I know you are short on time, so use this blog post to help you get started on web hosting. You can always learn more along the way.

And if you’re looking for a group of like-minded business owners, come join my new Ecopreneur Community group on Facebook. We have resources, inspiration and networking opportunities.

No time to research green web hosts? Looking for a quick website?

I know you want to make changes in the world. I also know there are there a million things to do when you run your own business.

To help simplify things I’ve chosen 5 green web hosts whose green credentials are relatively easy to find. I’ve added links to the webpages that talk about their green initiatives.

I’ve also focused on green hosting companies that offer website building.

Website builders use templates and drag and drop features. This is a great option for getting a website up quickly and/or when you’re not a HTML whizz but need to DIY your website.

What is green web hosting?

Green web hosting companies are committed to reducing their carbon footprint and carbon emissions.

They do this by investing in energy-efficient software and hardware.  They also invest in running on renewable energy or buying renewable energy credits or carbon offsetting.

Renewable Energy Certificates/ Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)

RECs are generated by companies that specialise in creating renewable energy. By buying these a host can say that they have helped in the generation of a certain amount of renewable energy. The company that sells the RECs then gets money to cover operational costs as well as invest in more green energy initiatives.

Carbon Offset Certificated (VERs)

The other option is carbon offsetting or VERs. While RECs certify that clean energy has been generated, VERs simply certify that greenhouse gases have been reduced in an equivalent amount as the certificate states.

5 green web host options in 2020

Ready to use a green host? Here are 5 great recommendations. There are a lot of green hosting websites out there, so make sure you find one that fits your needs. In addition to their green credentials look for:

  • Free domain when you buy hosting
  • Website builder (i.e. WordPress)
  • Great technical support for help with getting your site online
  • Unlimited disc space, or scalable storage depending upon your site needs
  • An easy to use control panel

Some of the hosts below also offer a free SSL certificate (otherwise you can buy one for a small fee). An SSL certificate is a security feature that secures credit card transactions, data transfer and logins.

(All prices are for the website builders, which includes hosting. Prices accurate at the time of writing, February 2020 and may include promotional offers).

GreenGeeks

GreenGeeks is one of the top green hosting options. It uses RECs to offset its carbon footprint by 300%. Not only is it carbon neutral but carbon reducing.

Cost: from $2.95 a month for a lite plan with a 3-year contract. Pro plan is $5.95/mo

Extra info: one of the most eco-conscious providers; free website transfer website builder with 100s templates

Cons: Best offers are on 3-year contracts (though this also the case with several other hosts)

HostGator

This comes out as one of the best hosting providers. Its environmental policy is also carbon-reducing. It buys RECs representing 130% of the energy it uses to power and cool its servers. (If you have a very high traffic site they offer great dedicated hosting plans from $118.99/mo)

Cost: plans start at $3.84/month but for priority support, it is $5.99 and for eCommerce, it is $9.22/mo (all are 24-month contracts).

Extra info: free SSL certificate; 24-hour support even on the starter plan.

Cons: no free backups

Inmotion hosting

This website page states that they are reducing their carbon footprint rather than offsetting it (though it’s not clear that they have a certificate). They opened a green server centre using green cooling technology.

Cost: Best value plan is $9.99/mo for 2-year contract or $11.99 for 1 year. These plans come with 2 websites and 80GB storage

Extra info: Great for small businesses with smaller sites. The option of custom do-it-for-you website design

Cons: green efforts aren’t as quantifiable as others

A2 Hosting

The green initiatives of A2 hosting are harder to find. But A2 Hosting purchases carbon offsets (VERs) from Carbonfund.

Cost: from $3.93 a month for the lite plan. The most popular plan starts at $490/mo

Features: great for customer service, anytime money-back guarantee, carbon natural company

Cons: not as many features, not as green as some other options.

HostPapa

HostPapa uses RECs and is 100% powered by renewable energy sources. It has dedicated pages to talk about its companies eco-policy.

Cost: $3.95/mo (+VAT) for most popular plan – Business. $12.95/month (+VAT) for Business Pro.

Features: unlimited websites and SSD storage, unlimited email accounts.

Cons: only 3 pages of website unless you buy the Business Pro plan; more limited templates than other sites; need to sign up for 3 years for best deals; added extras are on the business plan only (e.g. free website security and backup and SSL Certificate).

Hope all this helps, and remember that doing something is better than doing nothing!

If you feeling a little overwhelmed in your business, I got you. There’s always a lot to think about when running any business, but especially and eco-friendly one. Make sure you’ve joined my new Facebook community. You’ll get free trainings and can connect with like-minded ecopreneurs. See you there!

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Mel Bruce Ecopreneur Coach

Hi, I’m Mel. 

Business and marketing coach for eco-minded entrepreneurs who want to ditch the overwhelm and frustration to build a thriving business while having a positive impact on our environment. 

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