Green Hosting

Top 10 Green Hosting Providers

In order to rank “Green Hosting” providers we first had to define what it means to be “green” when it comes to the web hosting industry and then we compared our definition to what most hosting companies define as being “green”

The second step we took was to rank those hosting providers who claim to be “green” [we have identified only 14 such web hosts in the US] to determine our Top 10 US Green Web Hosting Providers.  And our ranking is based on our own comprehensive definition of being “green”.  Before we disclose in detail what we define as being “green” and before we also share with you our actionable Top-50 Green Hosting Plans below, first here is our Top 10 US Green Web Hosting Providers chart and our “Green Score” [on a scale of 0 to 100] for each one of them.

Top 10 US Green Web Hosting Providers

RankGreen Web Hosting ProviderOur “Green” ScoreAction #1Action #2
#1100See our Top-50 Green Hosting PlansVisit A2 Hosting
#2100See our Top-50 Green Hosting PlansVisit SiteGround
#376See our Top-50 Green Hosting PlansVisit AISO.net
#476See our Top-50 Green Hosting PlansVisit UltraWebhosting
#576See our Top-50 Green Hosting PlansVisit OrganicHost
#652See our Top-50 Green Hosting PlansVisit Pair Networks
#752See our Top-50 Green Hosting PlansVisit DreamHost
#852See our Top-50 Green Hosting PlansVisit HostPapa
#952See our Top-50 Green Hosting PlansVisit EthicalHosting
#1052 See our Top-50 Green Hosting PlansVisit GreenGeeks

Our Definition of Being a “Green” Hosting Provider

So what does it mean to be a “Green Hosting” provider?  As you may know hosting websites requires the following critical things:

  1. A ton of servers:  by some estimates today the Internet is powered by more than 18 million servers worldwide,
  2. A ton of energy not only to supply electricity to power these servers but also to cool the data centers in which they are located to ensure they operate efficiently and don’t overheat, and
  3. A ton of fresh water required to cool down these data centers.

All three of these components and what hosting companies do about them pretty much determine how “green” such web hosting companies are.  Let’s briefly review these critical components one by one.

Servers and Toxic Waste:  back in 2004 EPA estimated (click to download this EPA report) that 70% of all heavy metals, such as lead and mercury [i.e. highly toxic waste] in municipal solid waste landfills come from discarded electronics.  Given that such highly toxic substances cause well-documented adverse health effects, particularly to children and developing fetuses this is a significant and rapidly growing problem.  Considering the average useful life of a server is about 3-5 years, this means data centers around the world have to discard 4-6 million servers every single year.  That number was “mere” 0.5-1 million servers back in 2004 when EPA made their toxic waste estimates.  And this number will only grow higher.  Much higher.

Servers and CO2 Emissions:  globally more than 40% of electricity is generated by such high carbon-dioxide [aka CO2] polluting inputs as coal and oil.  On average a web server consumes about 1,000 kWh of energy thus producing more than 630 kg [~1,400 pounds] of CO2 annually.  Globally, all data centers and servers combined now produce more CO2 than the entire global airline industry.

Data Centers and Fresh Water Consumption:  according to the Water Resources Center at Texas Tech University a typical data center uses about 3-5 million gallons of water per day.  This is the same amount of water that is consumed by a small city with 30,000 to 50,000 inhabitants.  The growing shortage of drinking water worldwide is increasingly an issue requiring fresh water conservation rather than rapid increase in its consumption.

So, what do web hosting companies do to try to help the above three problems?

 

Toxic Waste—Reusing & Recycling

Incredibly after a thorough research we had to conclude that we found only one [yes, one!] web hosting company—A2 Hosting—who even mentions that they try to Reuse and Recycle those servers that have to be decommissioned from their web hosting data centers.  All other web hosting companies who try to be “green” primarily concern themselves with “green” energy and CO2 reduction.  We are not quite sure why more web hosting companies do not recognize this more immediate [and potentially much more direct and powerful] damage to humans from heavy metals toxic waste… Well, kudos to A2 Hosting!

 

CO2 Emissions—Green Energy and RECs

As mentioned above, it seems the vast majority of the web hosting companies who do seem concerned about being “green” and actually do something about it are focused predominantly on the CO2 emissions.  There are primarily three different ways they go about it:

  1. They reduce their data centers energy consumption by buying and using primarily energy-efficient [Energy Star certified] servers, LED or CFL lights, as well as build or use LEED and/or Energy Star certified data center buildings,
  2. They source some or 100% of all their energy needs from “green” renewable sources, such as solar, wind, hydroelectric power, and in one case [in Island] even from geothermal power, and
  3. They buy renewable energy credits [aka Green-e® Certified RECs or “tags”] to “greenify” their servers and data centers energy use.  For many years the price of such RECs ranged around 1-2 cents per kWh.  However, in 2021 the price has rapidly escalated to about 6-8 cents per kWh.  In terms of dollars & cents what this means is that with the average server’s annual energy consumption of about 1,000 kWh the cost of being “green” used to be about $10-$20 per year per server and in 2021 that cost went up to $60-80 per server per year.  Considering web servers host on average about 70 websites [math: there are about 1.2 billion websites hosted by 18 million servers, which equates to 67 websites per server], the price of being “green” [in terms of RECs] in 2021 went up from 15-30 cents per website per year to about $1 per website per year.

 

Fresh Water Preservation—Limited Progress

Unfortunately, our research shows that none of the small and medium-size web hosting companies mention anything about the problem of data centers consuming huge amounts of fresh drinking water that is increasingly in short supply around the world.  The only data hosting companies that do seem to recognize the problem and are trying to do something about it are the mega-data-center corporations such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple.

 

Our Top 50 Green Hosting Plans Ranking Methodology

To help our readers to get more actionable information we decided not only to determine which web hosting providers are “green” but also down select the Top 50 “green” hosting plans based on:

  1. Web hosting providers “Green” score that we estimated,
  2. Shared and WordPress web hosting plan 3-year average price, and
  3. Web hosting providers Customer Reviews, whenever those were available from at least one of the six sources we used.

The Price and the Customer Review scores are pretty straightforward and self-explanatory:

  • Price Score: the lower the 3-year cost the higher the Price Score, and
  • Customer Reviews Score: the higher the Customer Reviews [based on the weighted average of the following 6 sources: TrustPilot, SiteJabber, G2, HostAdvice, ReviewSignal, and Capterra], the higher the Customer Reviews Score.

When it comes to estimating the “Green” Score, we decided to evaluate what, if anything, different web hosting providers are doing in 4 [four] different areas that are relevant to be considered being “green” and then calculated the weighted average Final Green Score based on these four areas below.

Green Score:  Key Components

1. Toxic Waste Treatment Reduction2. Renewable Energy Use3. RECs or CO2 Offsets Purchases4. Fresh Water Preservation
Weight: 20%Weight: 40%Weight: 30%Weight: 10%

We have assigned the relatively low weight to such critical actions as Toxic Waste Reduction and Fresh Water Preservation [compared to higher weight for Green Energy Use], not based on the fact that we believe these are less important. Not at all. If anything, we believe these two issues, especially the Toxic e-Waste will have a significant adverse affect on humans immediately [versus CO2, which has an estimated impact over longer periods of time]. The main reason for low weight is that, to our dismay, almost none of the web hosting providers seem to do anything to reduce Toxic Waste and to preserve Fresh Water. Thus we had to give these two important areas relatively low scores as few or none of the companies got a rating above 0 on these.

And why did we split the Energy and CO2 related activities into the above two sub-components, instead of treating them as one, you might ask? Well, we believe that those companies that build their own “green” infrastructure [wind mills and/or solar panels] directly contribute to the reduction of the CO2 emissions and economic transition to renewable energy use. Of course, there is nothing wrong with simply buying RECs [Renewable Energy Certificates] or CO2 Offsets. But doing so has an indirect [and we would argue a relatively unknowable] effect on the “greening” of the US economy.

Here is an example of what one of the web hosting providers that we have analyzed [and included in our Top 10 Chart above] specifies on their website: over the years they have purchased “35,000 Kg of CO2 energy offsets”. This is one of the key claims why they want customers to believe they are a “green” hosting provider. An unsuspecting reader and potential client, who truly wants to help us transition to the “green” economy might think “Wow, these guys really mean business, they helped reduce CO2 Emissions over the years 35 tons!”… Until this same unsuspecting potential client decides to research how much such CO2 Offsets are selling for. He or she would discover that they are selling for about $10 per 1,000 kg of CO2. This means that this web hosting provider spent about $350 [yes, three hundred and fifty dollars that is] to buy these CO2 Offsets over however many years they have been in business. And now they are promoting themselves as a “green” web hosting provider. Compare this to another company on our list who invested hundreds of thousands or, possibly, millions of dollars into their own solar panels to power their data centers. There is no comparison between these two approaches. Hence we decided that building your own Renewable Energy infrastructure and buying RECs of CO2 Offsets are not equal and should be treated separately.

Enough talk, though, without further ado, here is our Top 50 US Green Hosting Plans.

Top 50 US Green Hosting Plans, Scored and Ranked

[Composite Score is the weighted average of Green, Price, and Customer Review Scores, weighted at 50%, 25%, and 25% respectively]

RankGreen HostHosting PlanGreen Score3-year Average Price ($/mo)Composite ScoreAction
#1Startup100$2.9992Visit A2 Hosting
#2WP Personal100$2.9992Visit A2 Hosting
#3Drive100$5.9992Visit A2 Hosting
#4Turbo Boost100$6.9992Visit A2 Hosting
#5WP Small Business100$9.9991Visit A2 Hosting
#6Turbo MAX100$12.9991Visit A2 Hosting
#7Ultra 1x76$2.9588Visit Ultra WebHosting
#8Linux Tiny76$5.0087Visit AISO.net
#9Ultra Unlimited76$5.9587Visit Ultra WebHosting
#10The Dogwood76$8.0087Visit OrganicHost
#11Ultra Unlimited Pro76$8.8986Visit Ultra WebHosting
#12Linux 276$9.5086Visit AISO.net
#13The Aspen76$12.0086Visit OrganicHost
#14WP Hosting76$12.9585Visit Ultra WebHosting
#15Linux 3 Premium76$16.5085Visit AISO.net
#16WP Optimized76$18.0084Visit AISO.net
#17The Oak76$29.1781Visit OrganicHost
#18Startup100$11.3279Visit SiteGround
#19GrowBig100$18.8978Visit SiteGround
#20GoGeek100$30.2276Visit SiteGround
#21Small52$4.5876Visit Ethical Hosting
#22Shared 152$5.9575Visit Pair Networks
#23Bronze52$6.3075Visit Ethical Hosting
#24Shared 252$9.9574Visit Pair Networks
#25Silver52$10.5074Visit Ethical Hosting
#26WP Enthusiast 152$14.9573Visit Pair Networks
#27Gold52$17.5072Visit Ethical Hosting
#28Shared 352$17.9572 Visit Pair Networks
#29Shared Unlimited52$3.9569Visit DreamHost
#30Shared 452$29.9569Visit Pair Networks
#31Shared Starter52$4.2669Visit DreamHost
#32Starter52$3.9569Visit HostPapa
#33Business52$3.9569Visit HostPapa
#34WP Starter52$3.9569Visit HostPapa
#35VPS Basic52$10.0068Visit DreamHost
#36WP Business52$5.9568Visit HostPapa
#37Business PRO52$12.9567Visit HostPapa
#38VPS Business52$20.0067Visit DreamHost
#39WP Enterprise+VPS100$199.0067Visit A2 Hosting
#40WP Enthusiast 252$39.9567Visit Pair Networks
#41VPS Professional52$40.0065Visit DreamHost
#42Lite52$8.2860Visit GreenGeeks
#43VPS Enterprise52$80.0060Visit DreamHost
#44Pro52$12.6259Visit GreenGeeks
#45Premium52$20.9558Visit GreenGeeks
#46Hatchling0$2.7550 Visit HostGator
#47Baby0$3.5050Visit HostGator
#48Business0$5.2550Visit HostGator
#49WP Hatchling0$5.9550Visit HostGator
#50WP Baby0$7.9549Visit HostGator

Other Useful Top-10, Top-50, and Top-100 Ranking Charts

In case lowest cost, or focus WordPress, or more powerful hosting solutions [such as VPS, Dedicated, or Cloud] is something you’d like to explore before making you final selection of the Web Hosting Partner, check out our Top 10 / Top 50 Rankings below.

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