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Households Using Gmail Consume Less Energy than Households Using Yahoo Mail

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July 06, 2012

Households Using Gmail Consume Less Energy than Households Using Yahoo Mail

By Jacqueline Lee, Contributing Writer

According to a study released by Opower, an energy efficiency software company, people who use Yahoo mail consume 11 percent more in energy every year than Gmail users. That’s enough, says Opower, if you put all of those profligate Yahoo mail users together, to power the island of Barbados for a year.

The data, according to Opower’s Barry Fischer, was controlled to account for climate differences and for differences in the square footage of houses (Yahoo users have bigger homes, by the way). Yahoo users gobble up 12 percent more energy per square foot than Gmail users.

The most likely reason for the correlation, according to Opower, is that Gmail users are mostly young and single. Yahoo mail users are much more likely to have children and to be in relationships, meaning that Gmail users spend less time at home. Also, fewer people in a household means lower energy consumption.

AOL (News - Alert) mail users are even worse than Yahoo users. Opower stats show that AOL mail users consume 18 percent more power than Gmail users. Hotmail users use more electricity than Gmailers but less than Yahoo mail users.

So how does Opower know all of these stats?

Opower provides utility companies with software that helps to evaluate customers’ energy usage. Via Opower’s Facebook (News - Alert) app and other services, millions of households use the software to evaluate energy usage on their own.

This means that Opower has the e-mail address of anyone who utilizes the software, which allows them to use their energy consumption data to draw conclusions about people based on their e-mail addresses.

“There’s been a sense that Gmail subscribers are early adopters of technology,” Fischer explained. “We wanted to see if we had observed data on that.”

Opower’s numbers are backed by multiple Silicon Valley venture capital firms. The company states that it served 10 million customers in the past year, delivering personalized behavior-based energy efficiency programs through channels including mail, e-mail, websites, smartphone apps and SMS.

In more bad news for Yahoo mail users, Gmail users tend to have higher credit scores than Yahoo mail users. Additionally, Gmail users who profile themselves on online dating sites tend to rank higher in the “desirability quotient.”

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Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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