TERI Research: An iPhone Consumes More Energy Than a Refrigerator in a Year

by December 14, 2016 0 comments

By Deepak Singh Rana, Research Associate, Sustainable Habitat Division, TERI


The Information Communications-Technologies (ICT) ecosystem, also known as the digital economy, demands huge amount of energy and this demand is growing at a very rapidpace in our digital world.  According to a recent study, an average iPhone consumed more energy comparatively to a medium-sized refrigerator in a year. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star ratings stated that refrigerator consume about 322 kWh per year whereas the average iPhone require361 kWh of electricity per year once the wireless connections, data usage and battery charging are tallied up.

ICT is basically an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance learning. Although ICT is often considered an extended synonym for information technology (IT), its scope is much broader. ICT includes Data Center/Server Farms, Office Equipment’s such as PCs, displays, copiers, and laser printers, Personal computing devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops etc. and mobile telecommunication infrastructure, including base stations.

In general ICT has a green image owing to the fact that it provides solutions to some of the environmental problems. Some of the well-known solutions are electronic documents (no need to print), electronic mail (no transportation costs), working from home which has many advantages such as savings of CO2 emissions, space savings & financial benefits. Another example of an ICT-related solution to use energy more efficiently is the use of smart meters. The development of smart meters is related with the development of smart grids which is a power management system provided by ICT. But even though ICT gives several solutions for environmental problems it also embraces some of them.

Study says that world’s ICT ecosystem uses about 1,500 TWh of electricity annually, which is equal to all the electric generation of Japan & Germany combined. That is about 10% of world’s electricity generation.

So where does India stands in this entire energy crunch?

According to [1]Global Index of Information and Communication Technology access 2015, which measures the accessibility level of information and communication technology,India ranks 131 out of 167 nations. Though India dropped six positions from 2010 in the index, yet as per the report India’s mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants grew from 62.4 in 2010 to 74.48 in 2014. Also the percentage of households with computer in India doubled to 13% in 2014 from 6% in 2010 and percentage of households with internet access grew three-fold to 15.33% in 2014. It is clear from the above data that the penetration of mobile phones and internet access has increased rapidly in last couple of years.

Pilot Study:

A technology initiative is taken by Vigyanlabs Innovations Private Limited (VIPL) in the form of Intelligent Power Management (IPM+). It is a software product suite platform developed to measure and enable energy savings in ICT infrastructure. IPM+ aims to help its users save significant amounts of energy in its enterprise-wide Personal Computing environment and thus make a positive contribution to the state and economy in terms of energy savings and environment in terms of reduction in carbon footprint.

A pilot study was performed in the New Delhi office of The Energy and Resources Institute. The study consisted of 28 workstations (including 1 server). It was decided to establish the baseline first for the identified system and then after base lining the IPM+ software would be activated and the power saving would be monitored.

Baselining: The energy consumption on 28 workstations was observed for three weeks (19 days). This period is being referred as Default Mode. The time period of default mode was from 25th June to 13th July. Data was collected for the time period. After establishing the baseline, it was time for activating the software and see the result.

Savings: The same workstations (28 nos.) were taken into account for calculation of effects of IPM+ software. After successful activation of the software on every workstation the results were monitored for the next three weeks (19 days). This period is being referred to as Savings Mode. The time period of savings mode was from 15th July to 2nd August.

After assessing the data of both the default mode and savings mode, a saving of around 0.14 kW was observed on each workstation per day. The energy consumption was measured to be reduced to the extent of 25% after the activation of energy saving policies.

Above mentioned was just a small example that what potential lies in energy efficiency in the ICT sector. The need of the hour is to develop new innovative technologies and practices which could help in curbing down the growing need for increasing energy demand.


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