August 20th marked Earth Overshoot Day 2013. It is truly an annual event, but something we all can’t just celebrate. It is the day to mark that we have used up all the resources our planet can provide us for the year. From August 20th onward until the new year, we are borrowing resources from our future.
Pollution, global warming, and a lot of factors contribute to this. It is both a sad and scary reality for all humanity. And it is critical for all of us to do everything we can to reduce this and prevent Earth from going under.
Web hosting companies are part of the problem. All those racks of servers have to sip energy. Each Intel Xeon has to be fed. Not only that, those servers need to be cooled in order for your favorite hosting company to deliver that 24/7 uptime that all the customers demand. Each datacenter leaves an enormous footprint on our environment.
The power drain caused by the servers, plus the power to cool them, takes a big toll. The great server farms of the world are the 21st century equivalents of the factories that powered the industrial age. Both contribute to the environmental crisis that the world faces now.
Not all web hosting companies are neglecting their impact on the environment. A lot of them have gotten the memo. In fact, some are actively supporting projects or making sure that they minimize the footprint as much as possible.
In theory, the best alternative is to bypass the grid entirely and invest in alternative ways of generating power. For example, Apple is using solar energy to power its North Carolina server farm and they are doing the same to power their Reno, NV data center. Unfortunately, not many datacenters also own their own green energy sources.
A more realistic alternative is to invest in the planet in other ways. The basic idea is to use renewable energy rather than relying on fossil fuel.
Renewable energy consists of resources that rely on fuel sources that restore themselves over short periods of time. They do not diminish as they are consumed — like fossil fuels. Such fuel sources include solar power, wind, moving water, organic plant and waste materials (eligible biomass), and the earth’s heat (geothermal).
The EPA defines green power as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources.
Some providers contribute directly to projects that make sustainable and renewable green energy available, and some make use of green energy themselves!
To draw attention to these green hosting companies that are doing everything they can to contribute a better future for our planet, we have compiled a list of 5 best green hosting companies.
The Best 5
- A Small Orange : Matches 150 percent of the electricity it uses with renewable energy,
- Hostgator : 130% powered by wind turbines,
- WebHostingBuzz : Plants at least double the number of trees needed to absorb the carbon they produce,
- GreenGeeks : Purchases wind energy credits equivalent to three times what their servers draw from the grid,
- Eleven2 : Plants a tree for every new account and use low powered servers.
Read more about them after the break!
Winner – A Small Orange – From $2.92/mo
In addition to using energy efficient hosting technologies, A Small Orange (ASO) has chosen to go a step further and matches 150 percent of the electricity it uses with renewable energy in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). This commitment ensures that for every kilowatt hour of electricity used to host your website, another one and one-half kilowatt hours of electricity is generated by renewable energy projects and delivered to the power grid.
Plus, a lot of A Small Orange’s employees work remotely from home. This way, it minimizes commuting and in turn, contributes to reducing carbon emission from vehicles.
ASO has an industry leading 90-day money back guarantee and guarantees an uptime of 99.9% for their “ordinary” shared hosting. Not only that, they also offer premium Cloud Shared and VPS plans that have an even better uptime statistic. The Cloud plans use redundant hardware with automatic failover. That’s the way to go if you just gotta be online 24/7.
Shared Hosting Plans
A Small Orange offers a finely graded scale of Shared hosting plans that enables the average Shared hosting customer to get a better deal than “unlimited” Shared hosting. How does less than $3/month sound? Its damn hard to find such a low price at an “unlimited” Shared host, but ASO has it!
Here are their plans:
Since ASO’s shared hosting plans come with cPanel and Softaculous one-click installer, you can easily install any web app. If you sign up for a year get 2 extra months.
2. HostGator – From $3.96/month
HostGator is the home for 8 million domains owned by over 400,000 customers. They operate several data centers of their own and offer shared, reseller, VPS, and dedicated hosting. They’re best known for their affordable and well-received Shared hosting plans. That’s where their center of gravity is.
All of their plans are backed by 45-day money back guarantee. The Shared hosting plan features unlimited domains, disk space, and bandwidth, cPanel and installer.
Even with their top-of-the-line servers, HostGator just wasn’t able to reach the level of non-emission that they wanted. The solution?
Invest In Wind Powers
HostGator purchased Renewable Energy Credits from windmill-powered Texas in the total amount of 130% their average consumption. With this strategy, they’re able to cool and commit power to every one of their thousands of servers without a single dent in our environment.
With 400,000 customers, it is obvious that they have thousands of servers in their operation. With that many, and also counting in HostGator’s growing team of experts and support staff, their environmental footprint is huge. So we were quite keen to know and understand what they are doing to minimize all this footprint.
They are doing quite a lot! Their servers are 130% powered by wind turbines and they are also using 36% more energy efficient servers. Their efforts are equivalent to powering 321 homes with clean energy every year, or protecting 551 acres of forest a year. Pretty impressive.
Shared Hosting Plans
HostGator has three grades of Shared hosting plans. They also offer price discounts for long commitments. In this pricing chart, the prices are from month-to-month to three years. The lowest price is valid for a 3-year commitment; the highest price is month-to-month. From this, you can see that you get the biggest percentage discount on the cheapest plan.
You can see how their price table encourages customers to make that long-term commitment! They are trying hard to get under that $4/mo price point. But keep in mind that it is a limited plan: it’s only 1 domain and you can’t support e-commerce.
Here’s their Shared hosting plans.
Here are the main differences among the plans:
- Hatchling: It supports only one domain, while the the others support an unlimited number of domains. It does not allow either a dedicated IP address or an SSL certificate. So Hatchling gets a “No” for e-commerce hosting.
- Baby: A dedicated IP address is $2/mo and the private SSL certificate is free upon request. For month-to-month, its price is about the same as Hatchling.
- Business: It includes a dedicated IP address and a private SSL certificate. This is the recommended plan for e-commerce.
A 45-day money back guarantee backs up all shared hosting plans. This is 15 days more than industry standard.
All shared hosting plans include unlimited space and bandwidth. HostGator seems to be managing their system resources pretty well although fair usage policies still apply.
3. Web Hosting Buzz – From $4.95/month
WebHostingBuzz was founded in 2002 with the idea of offering reasonably priced hosting in a market that was dominated by a few hosting giants and indifferent service.
They now own over 250 of their own servers and have datacenters in both US and UK. Their primary datacenter is in Atlanta, with others in Dallas, New York, Phoenix, and Newark, Nottinghamshire (UK).
When it comes to carbon neutral hosting, Web Hosting Buzz does things slightly differently from other hosting companies. They don’t believe in purchasing Renewable Energy Credits from for-profit companies, since they don’t really know the actual benefit of it. Instead, they partner up with International Tree Foundation and plant at least double the number of trees needed to absorb the carbon they produce. Plus, all of their servers use 27% less energy, and they recycle 70% of their office waste. Talk about being serious in being carbon neutral!
Providing services in web hosting industry for 11 years is a big achievement and WebHostingBuzz has successfully done that. Unlike other big web hosting companies, they don’t have millions of customers but they only serve high-end customers who are looking for something big. A major portion of their current 30,000 customers is on reseller hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated servers. They offer shared hosting plans as well and the good thing is that, you won’t find thousands of other users on the same server where you are hosted.
WebHostingBuzz’s entry-level Shared hosting plans are priced at $4.95 and $6.95. The $4.95 plan limits you to 400GB (for all practical purposes, unlimited!) and two web sites. Their $6.95 plan offers unlimited storage, bandwidth, and websites. Their highest priced Shared plan is something special. It is the so-called “Buzz Premier” plan and it goes for $9.95/mo. It has some valuable features that are not normally seen in Shared hosting.
The Buzz Premier plan uses two web servers, Apache and Nginx, with Nginx playing the role of the front end. This really should improve performance on a Shared hosting plan. In this configuration, Nginx serves the static pages, taking some of the workload from Apache.
If your site gets popular, this type of host is right for you!!
Visit Web Hosting Buzz
4. GreenGeeks – From $4.95/month
GreenGeeks has got to be the most visibly “green” hosting company around. Certainly they are the most vocal about it. One might think that they own acres of solar panels or wind turbines…BUT NOOOO!!
It isn’t that they aren’t really green — it’s just not in the idealized romantic way. Within realistic limits, they try their hardest to minimize their footprint.
Let’s read the fine print together….
GreenGeeks pulls energy from the grid just like every web hosting company. We must pull energy from the grid in order to make sure that we have a constant power flow for our servers and to make sure the servers would not be interrupted by a lack of power.
In order to compensate for the power we pull from the grid, we purchase wind energy credits for the energy we consume from the grid. In fact we replace, with wind power, 3 times the amount of energy used by our servers so if we pull 1X of power from the grid we purchase enough wind energy credits to put back into the grid 3X of power having been produced by wind power.
This allows our customers to say that their web sites are 300% green and are actually helping to make the web hosting and power systems greener, not just covering the carbon footprint but covering others carbon footprints as well.
They are, in fact, supporting renewable energy and contributing to the green energy business so that it can be competitive with the fossil fuel interests.
GreenGeeks works with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to buy wind energy credits to offset our energy consumption and to put more energy back into the grid which was produced by wind power technology.
Ahhh. That’s it. So there aren’t any photos of vast fields of solar cells or wind turbines owned by GreenGeeks, but they do their best to support renewable energy sources.
Shared Hosting Plans
Aside from the environment, GreenGeeks is best known for their Shared hosting plan. They have a “one size fits all” Shared hosting plan that is very typical of its genre. It is unlimited storage, bandwidth, domains, email accounts, subdomains, and mySQL databases. There is a 30 day money back guarantee and a 99.% uptime statistic. This is not a cloud plan that would use redundant hardware.
Here’s their price sheet.
|Plan||36 month||24 month||12 month||1 month|
1. Currently there is a 20% discount on all prices. This is not reflected in this table since sales tend to be transient.
2. There is a one time $15 set-up fee that is waived for all but the month-to-month price.
3. Nightly backups are included.
Whew!! If you are shopping around for a Shared host, this is a good table to consider. On the front page of their site, GreenGeeks advertises Shared hosting for only $3.96/mo — but this after you sign up for 3 years and apply the 20% discount!
Their advertised price matches HostGator, but both companies have fine print that tells you what you are really billed. The advertised price is almost 75% off the month-to-month price — and that doesn’t include the set up fee!
This is a sad commentary on the cutthroat business that Shared hosting has become. We hope you take a careful look at the price tables that we publish at BestHosting.org and make an informed decision. Sometimes this type of plan is best for you; sometimes not!
GreenGeeks honestly doesn’t impress us. It is a decent hosting company with a nice uptime guarantee, good customer support, and pretty standard hosting plan. It really is terrific that they’ve raised the public’s awareness of the environmental issue. We just wish that an outstanding hosting company like Digital Ocean would do the same. Honestly, you could do better with other hosting companies in this list.
5. Eleven2 – From $4.95/month
Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Los Angeles, Eleven2 has datacenters in Dallas, London, and Singapore. Eleven2 is a full-featured hosting provider. They have good plans for Shared, VPS, Reseller, and Dedicated hosting. Their service is backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee, double the industry norm.
You choose your datacenter when you sign up. This way, you ensure that your websites are on a server closest to your target audience. By having a website physically close to people improves the page loading times.
Eleven2 servers use 30% less power usage for the same level of performance. That reduces the drain on the grid. Besides that, they plant a tree for each new hosting account! They have already planted thousands and will continue to plant thousands more each year! In total, they’ve planted more than enough trees to absorb the carbon that they’ve released into the environment. In that way, you are contributing to the planet’s ongoing survival by using Eleven2.
Shared Hosting Plans
They do not offer an “unlimited” plan; rather, they set generous limits on RAM and storage on all but their cheapest plan. The entry-level plan, which is only available by the year (it comes out to $4.95/mo), gives you 10GB storage. The next plan up is $10 (month-to-month) or $8/mo with an annual prepayment. It gives you 250GB storage! Only $3/mo more (annual prepay) and you get 240GB more storage! That’s a strong message that they are trying hard to steer customers toward the more expensive plans.
Here is their price sheet for Shared hosting.
|Name||Storage||Bandwidth||SSL Cert.||Ded IP.||PC Comp.||Price|
1. These prices are for a 1-year prepayment.
2. For the S-100 and S-200 plans, the SSL certificate and dedicated IP address are options. They are both included in the S-300 and S-400 plans. All the plans include the Cloudflare cloud-based CDN.
3. They also have greater discounts if you sign up for 2 and 3 year commitments.
We’ve highlighted a few top-notch hosting companies that also have active environmental programs. On a tiny scale, its what we do at home. We have an ongoing green program in our state that allows us to purchase our energy from a green provider. My electric bill comes from the alternative energy company instead of the evil fossil fuel company. When I pay a $100 electric bill, that $100 is going toward producing electricity from renewable resources instead of dead dinosaurs.
On a massive scale, these hosting providers are doing the same basic thing. And some are also planting trees to bring the global system back into balance.
This is the only way to ensure that future generations will still have a world to live in. So please choose green hosting services as a contribution. Of course, there are others. If you want to have more choices in hosting, you can check out more alternatives by using our hosting comparison tool and check them out yourself.