When you think about the world’s most significant polluters, the internet likely doesn’t top your list. Infused as it is with lighter-than-air jargon like “the cloud,” it’s easy to forget that the internet leaves a real mark on the planet—and it isn’t pretty. In fact, powering websites is a huge source of pollution, and by many estimates, worse for the world than flying.
However, some website hosting companies offer environmentally friendly alternatives, many of which can benefit the planet. Here’s a closer look at some of the most climate-friendly web hosting companies and how you can choose between them.
Pricing: Starts at $2.95/month (Learn more)
Many consider GreenGeeks the industry leader in eco-friendly web hosting, and for a good reason. The company has been in business for over a decade and hosts more than half a million websites. Despite its size, it offsets an impressive 300% of its carbon footprint through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. In other words, GreenGeeks purchases three times the amount of energy its servers actually use, which helps make your website carbon neutral or even carbon negative.
GreenGeeks’ hosting plans start at $2.95 per month (assuming you commit for three years). It integrates well with WordPress, WooCommerce, reseller web hosting, and virtual private servers for user flexibility. With the company’s lowest-cost Lite plan, you get unlimited domains, email accounts, bandwidth, and storage, as well as a free domain and regular backups.
You’ll receive a 30-day money-back guarantee after purchase, and the company offers free website migration to help you take the hosting platform for a test drive. No worries if you don’t love it—you can go back to your previous provider without any complications.
From a customer service perspective, GreenGeeks earns praise for a responsive support team and a policy of free daily backups to help prevent a crisis for its customers. However, these benefits come at the cost of a higher renewal price than most providers.
Pricing: Starts at $1.99/month (learn more)
Like GreenGeeks, iPage offsets more carbon than the company uses—up to 200% more. The company purchases wind energy Renewable Energy Credits, so you effectively offset your website’s entire carbon footprint twice by committing to them.
At $1.99 per month with a three-year commitment, this web hosting service is one of the most cost-effective out there. Just know that you’ll need to pay for extras, as there are no free backups, and a site restore will cost $100. Likewise, the sites it hosts lack some of the power and processing speeds of their competitors. After three years, your plan will renew at $7.99/month.
Overall, iPage offers a supremely cost-effective and environmentally conscious hosting platform for small websites. This makes it ideal for blogs or basic business sites. However, scale up much, and you may find the service is too low-powered to handle it without paying for a pricier plan.
Pricing: Starts at $3.99 (learn more)
As an EPA Green Power Partner, Kualo hosting runs off 100% renewable energy. It has invested in low-power, energy-efficient servers with modern cooling elements that cut down on AC needs. Likewise, the company is certified Green-E for renewable energy use. Kualo has adopted eco-friendly internal policies like going paperless and encouraging employees to work from home to cut down on emissions from commuting.
Pricewise, Kualo is on the more expensive side. For a starter price of $3.99, you can host just one site. However, it comes with ten email accounts, a free site builder and domain, and 30-day account backups. As with most hosting companies, you’ll also get free site migration.
One standout feature is Kualo’s support of US-based charities. All registered nonprofits in the United States can apply for the program, and assuming they meet the eligibility requirements, Kualo provides free web hosting with 24/7 support.
Pricing: Starts at $2.99/month (learn more)
A2 Hosting is an excellent value hosting platform that performs well in every category without necessarily standing out from its competitors. It works with consumers and global nonprofits to offer web hosting options that are light on the environment. The company is partnered with the Carbon Fund energy offset program, which effectively means that it has been carbon-neutral since 2007.
Likewise, A2 Hosting encourages employees to carpool or telecommute whenever possible (even before the COVID-19 pandemic) to reduce fuel use and recycles old hardware responsibly. The company also supports global tree replanting initiatives like Carbon.org to promote ecological diversity and carbon sequestration.
While A2 Hosting doesn’t provide you with a free domain upon sign up, you can take advantage of the platform’s free site migration and 24/7 support network. Scale up to the Drive plan ($4.99 per month), and you benefit from free automatic backups and the ability to split your hosting access over multiple sites.
Pricing: €51/year, approx. $5.13/month USD (learn more)
Powered by the Iron Mountain data center in Amsterdam, Greenhost runs off 100% renewable wind energy and offers eco-friendly credentials throughout every tier of its business. For example, the hosting platform’s storage servers are equipped with SSD storage and virtualization to more efficiently use each server compared to traditional hard drives. The Amsterdam data center itself heats with green energy and encourages its employees to bike to work and eat plant-based diets.
Customers can choose from three hosting plans, which start with a data limit of 10 GiB per month and 3Gib of email storage for an unlimited number of users. You will also get daily backups and full control of your services through the in-house service center.
While Greenhost isn’t as transparent about its services as other web hosting platforms, the pricing certainly qualifies as such. You’ll pay a flat rate per year that won’t go up after the promotional period. In contrast, many other hosting platforms offer a low introductory rate for up to three years before more than doubling the price for each month after that.
Pricing: Starts at $3.95/month (learn more)
Branded as a “small business web hosting solution,” Host Papa pays attention to details that matter to the little guy. The company was one of the first web hosting providers to commit to going green by purchasing carbon offset credits for their fossil fuel use for powering servers and administrative offices.
A key downside for HostPapa is the price point and relatively limited features. Plans start at $3.95/month, effectively double other options on this list. You can also only host two websites at a time at this tier, while competitors like A2 and GreenGeeks offer unlimited. And if you’re prone to technical problems, note the company doesn’t provide 24/7 support or free backups.
Saying that, this base plan does include a free domain name and site transfer.
Pricing: $4.08/month (learn more)
Founded in 1998, FatCow brands itself as a no-nonsense hosting platform that makes web hosting simple for the nonexpert. The company has been committed to offsetting its electricity use with certificates for wind-generated renewable energy—though notably, it doesn’t share what percentage of corporate energy use these credits cover. Today, the company also encourages employees to adopt eco-friendly practices like telecommuting and going paperless.
This hosting platform is more simplistic (possibly even dated) compared to its competitors. Even so, it’s packed with features for the price point, including unlimited disk space and bandwidth, intuitive site creation tools, and more. As a hosting platform, FatCow makes the most sense for novices that want extra guidance through the web hosting process, potentially at the cost of customization.
Why is Web Hosting Bad for the Planet?
All websites are run by data servers, which is the name for both the computer hardware and the software responsible for storing, processing, and securing data. When you set up a website, you pay a hosting company to support it on their data server. Think of it like paying rent for an internet “apartment.”
These servers exist in buildings called data centers dedicated to running the servers. All that computing power makes data server hardware heat up quickly, so data centers rely on massive amounts of air conditioning to keep things from frying. So much, in fact, that web hosting services account for 3.7% of the world’s carbon emissions today—putting it at the same level as the entire airline industry.
Is Eco-Friendly Web Hosting Better?
Green web hosting companies claim to offer an alternative. They often pull their electricity from renewable sources or purchase carbon offset credits to make up for the fossil fuels they burn. So, while the hosting company may run on fossil fuels, it’s devoting the equivalent amount of money to supporting renewable energy production in other regions.
These companies also support the planet by minimizing their environmental footprint through more efficient software, fewer long-distance commutes, and supporting recycling programs. Many also fund green initiatives and environmental-minded nonprofits.
How to Choose the Best Climate-Friendly Web Hosting
Understanding that there are better web hosting options available and knowing where to find them are two separate issues. When determining which eco-friendly web hosting companies are worth your time, consider the following questions.
What’s the price point?
Is the price-per-month competitive with other providers? And—more importantly—how much will the price increase at the end of the intro promotional period?
Is the system built for business or personal use?
Some web hosting services work better for small-scale websites, like a personal blog, while others better suit e-commerce. You don’t want to pay for more than you will use, so choose the scale that fits your needs.
What are the key service features?
Many web hosting services offer features like unlimited customer support or free backups. Check what’s available and which features matter to you.
What kinds of environmental initiatives has the company taken?
Most eco-friendly web hosting services offset at least some of their own carbon footprint by investing in renewable energy sources. Others go further by supporting a workplace culture that’s environmentally sustainable or by supporting other green initiatives. These can help you determine which brands are really green and which are merely capitalizing on a trend.
Will you get any social credit for going green?
Most climate-friendly web hosting services offer “badges” you can choose to display on your website to highlight the site is environmentally friendly. This can be a crucial selling point and an excellent way to stand out from the competition, especially as an eco-friendly e-commerce brand.