cleantech insights

Spam: The $3.6 billion energy hog

Emma Ritch

A new study from software developer McAfee this week could put new pressure on lawmakers to do something about the spam problem.

It turns out that unwanted e-mail messages are not only annoying; the writing, routing and deleting of spam uses about 33 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. That equates to the electricity used by 2.1 million U.S. homes.

In the United States, the average cost of electricity in the residential and commercial sectors was 10.81 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the Energy Information Administration.

So that makes spam a $3.6 billion energy hog.

In fact, McAfee was full of fun facts about the detriment of spam. The 6.2 trillion spam messages sent globally produced the equivalent emissions of 3.1 million vehicles burning 2 billion gallons of gas.

This spam is definitely not the problem.

And being a developer of anti-virus software, McAfee was kind enough to point out that spam filtering prevented the use of 135 billion kWh.

The spam problem is only expected to get worse, which makes it all the more worrisome that the computing industry isn’t embracing green IT.…