Why Netflix and Other Streaming Services Are Energy Efficient Ways to Consume Media

Raise your hand if you have a Netflix account or easy access to one in your home. We can’t see you, but we’re willing to bet that you raised your hand!

Netflix is by far the most popular online media-streaming app, and it is gaining popularity. It isn’t alone, as Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, YouTube Red, and others are competing in the same space.

There are many apps that are great at increasing energy efficiency, but should we count Netflix as one of them?

The answer appears to be yes! The good news for energy consumers is that these streaming apps are actually incredibly energy efficient when compared to other methods of consuming the same types of media.

Energy Efficiency of Netflix and Streaming Apps

According to a study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Americans streamed 3.2 billion hours of video, which consumed an amount of energy equivalent to 175,000 American households for one year in 2011.

The researchers found that the energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions associated with streaming videos was roughly comparable to having DVDs mailed to one’s home and consumed that way—think the early days of Netflix.

However, if media is consumed via DVD in any other way (picking up a Redbox movie, driving to the local video store, or purchasing a movie at a big box store), then the associated travel increases the energy use and carbon emissions, making streaming the better choice.

Now, a lot has changed since 2011, and streaming appears to have become the top dog when it comes to media consumption. As technology becomes more and more energy efficient, steaming apps will continue to become a better choice for energy efficiency and eco-friendliness.

What’s more, one should consider the environmental impact of the company they are choosing for their streaming service or the store they are commuting to when purchasing DVDs or Blu-rays. Netflix, for example, makes a point of purchasing renewable energy credits and receiving a significant percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources.


Click here to learn more about how Netflix has made an effort to offset their carbon emissions with renewable energy!