Yahoo Mail-subscribing-households use 11% more electricity per year than Gmail households, a recent study by Opower found. That adds up to nearly a whole extra month of electricity, about an extra $110 per year.
“It’s as if, relative to the average Yahoo household, the average Gmailer is strictly hang-drying their laundry, forgoing high-definition TV, and hand-washing their dishes with cold water for a year,” Opower writes in its’ blog.
So what makes for this drastic disparity in energy usage? Opower — a research company that unpacks and analyzes energy data to present to everyday consumers in an actionable way — found that the problem is one of “correlation not causation.” Meaning that the email domains aren’t driving the issue of energy usage. Instead, discrepancies are related to the core demographics of each site’s users.
“Yahoo subscribers tend to live in suburbs, be in longterm relationships, have a family,” says Barry Fischer, a head writer and a research for Opower. “Those types of lifestyle characteristics carry with them greater energy needs compared to Gmail household. [Gmailers] are found more in urban areas, are younger and are single.”
Ultimately, Opower found that even though Yahoo users live in larger residences than Gmail users, Yahoo subscribers need more electricity per square foot than Gmail users.
Opower matched up 2011 electricity rates with more than 1.5 million email addresses over 23 states to draw their conclusions — focusing on Gmail and Yahoo specifically because they were the top two email service providers of those surveyed, Fischer told Mashable.
Though Opower only analyzed 2011 data, Fischer says he believes similar patterns of higher Yahoo energy usage would have been found in previous years.
But Yahoo users can’t simply cut down on electricity charges now by signing up for a Gmail account. It’s all about lifestyle adjustments to cut back on overall energy costs, Opower says.
See more about the differences in Yahoo and Gmail users’ energy spending in the infographic.