There are a lot of benefits to cloud computing. For instance, if you believe the commercials, it lets you replace your family’s heads with better heads! Also, it saves you storage space and means you can access your data with multiple devices. But this might be the best argument so far: Switching from local email servers to a cloud-based service like Gmail could make companies 80 times more energy-efficient. In fact, a full year of Gmail requires less energy than it takes to make a bottle of wine (both the wine and the bottle), drink it, put a message in it, and throw it in the ocean. (Plus, it saves on message-bottle pollution.)

Google did this analysis of itself by itself, so take this with the concomitant grain of salt. But it makes sense that using fewer servers to capacity would be a lot more efficient than having more underused servers firing all the time. And those servers are more efficient, says Google:

We compared Gmail to the traditional enterprise email solutions it’s replaced for more than 4 million businesses. The results were clear: switching to Gmail can be almost 80 times more energy efficient than running in-house email. This is because cloud-based services are typically housed in highly efficient data centers that operate at higher server utilization rates and use hardware and software that’s built specifically for the services they provide—conditions that small businesses are rarely able to create on their own.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.