According to a promising study, streaming can be much better for the environment, requiring less energy and emitting less carbon dioxide (CO2), than some traditional methods of DVD renting, buying and viewing.
“The equipment designers and policymakers should focus on improving the efficiency of end-user devices and network transmission energy to curb the energy use from future increases in video streaming,” said lead author Arman Shehabi from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US.
The researchers cite modern devices such as laptops and tablets as the reason for this improvement, as they are much more efficient than older, energy-sapping DVD players.
Since you do not need to drive all the way to go and buy or rent DVDs makes this method much more energy- and carbon-intensive.
In the study, the researchers, from Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and Northwestern University estimated that if all DVD viewing in the US was shifted to streaming services in 2011, around two billion kgs of CO2 emissions could have been avoided.
Also, around 30 petajoules (PJ) of energy could have been saved – the equivalent of the amount of electricity needed to meet the demands of 200,000 households.
They calculated that one hour of video streaming requires 7.9 megajoules (MJ) of energy, compared to as much as 12 MJ for traditional DVD viewing.
The one-hour streaming emits 0.4 kg of CO2 compared to as much as 0.71 kg of CO2 for DVD viewing.
Video streaming was limited to TV and movies and did not include shorter videos that are streamed online through YouTube, etc.
“Such efficiency improvements will be particularly important in the near future, when society is expected to consume far greater quantities of streaming video content compared to today,” Shehabi added.
The study was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.