Green web hosting: The best providers for small businesses in 2020
Hosting can be important for your website, but bad for the planet. Learn which companies have given sustainability the green light with our guide to the best green web hosting providers
If your business is committed to implementing sustainable practices, then green web hosting is a perfect solution for your hosting requirements.
Web hosting is powered by servers in data centres, which are located all over the world. As websites are continuously in use, the servers that power them must be too – so you can imagine just how much energy is needed.
In fact, data centres were responsible for almost 1% of the worldwide demand for electricity in 2019, according to data published by the IEA [International Energy Agency]. By choosing a green web hosting provider, you and your small business can show that you care for the planet, and still benefit from the technical resources of hosting.
Plus, the two can be connected – some providers host sites using renewable energy, for example. And with other providers doing everything from offsetting energy to promoting remote working, there are all sorts of ways that a hosting provider can help your business to manage its environmental impact.
With so many providers to choose from, we’ve whittled it down to the best of the bunch, using research conducted with small businesses in mind. We’ll help you understand which provider is right for your business by giving you specific information to help you make your decision.
In this article, we’ve focused on each provider’s shared hosting offering because this is the most eco-friendly type of hosting, as it requires the least amount of resources to run. For more information, see our methodology section below.
So who is leading the way? The top six green hosting providers for small businesses are:
- GreenGeeks – best overall green hosting provider
- A2 Hosting – best value for money
- InMotion – best for flying the flag for change; first-ever green data centre
- iPage – best for cheap plans – but at the expense of speed
- HostPapa – best for stinging you with expensive renewal costs
- DreamHost – best for extra features
|Provider||Top green features||Try it|
|- Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)|
- Green Power partner
- 300% energy offset
|GreenGeeks hosting plans|
|- Carbonfund.org partner|
- Tree planting initiative
- Uses Solid State Drives (SSDs)
|A2 Hosting hosting plans|
|- Green data centre|
- Trees for the Future partnership
|InMotion hosting plans|
|- Renewable Energy Certificates|
- Offsets its energy consumption
|iPage hosting plan|
|- Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)|
- 100% energy offset
|HostPapa hosting plans|
|- Green business practices||DreamHost hosting plans|
With a name like GreenGeeks, it’s not surprising that this provider puts eco-friendly practices at the core of its operations. In fact, our research found it to be the best overall green hosting provider.
Impressively, GreenGeeks already hosts more than 500,000 websites, and offsets 615,000+ kWh per year.
As you’d expect, it’s the green features that really make GreenGeeks stand out from the crowd.
For starters, it uses Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which not all providers do. GreenGeeks offsets its energy consumption: for every kilowatt of electricity it takes from the power grid, three kilowatts of wind and solar energy are returned.
This means that GreenGeeks offers 300% energy offsetting as part of its commitment to sustainable practices.
It's also a proud Green Power partner, meaning it participates in a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programme that promotes the voluntary use of green power.
GreenGeeks offers the following types of hosting:
While dedicated and cloud hosting aren’t available, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for small websites or businesses that are just starting out. This is because it’s unlikely you’ll need the capacity or scalability that dedicated and cloud hosting offer.
A comprehensive range of help and support is available, including an online support centre and website tutorials. Live chat is available 24/7, and you can get ticketed support too.
While phone support is available, it’s only offered Monday-Sunday 2pm-5am BST – if an issue arose in the morning, however serious, you’d have to wait until later that day to call.
We gave GreenGeeks 5/5 for its features, and this score is miles ahead of any provider in this category.
While its green features are a cut above, GreenGeeks also offers more standard features, including:
- Unmetered transfer
- Free domain
- SSL certificates
But be aware of the free backups, which come with a caveat: GreenGeeks provides one free restore on each account, per month. Each restore after this will cost you $25.
GreenGeeks scored 4.0 in the value for money category – not bad, but still the worst out of all the providers we looked at. You can choose from three shared hosting plans though (by contrast, iPage only offers one), and a 30-day money back guarantee is available.
|Lite||$2.95 per month*||GreenGeeks pricing|
|Pro||$5.95 per month*||GreenGeeks pricing|
|Premium||$11.95 per month*||GreenGeeks pricing|
*These are discounted prices, which are correct at the time of writing.
GreenGeeks scored full marks for disk space, with unlimited storage available on all plans, so you don’t have to worry about running out of room.
And at 99.98%, it has the best uptime performance of any green hosting provider in this ranking.
A2 Hosting is an independently owned hosting company that was launched in 2001.
On the surface, there isn't much to separate A2 Hosting’s overall rating from that of GreenGeeks, our top provider. But how does A2 Hosting compete, and where does it fall short?
Well, it’s a mixed bag in terms of the green features on offer. Although A2 Hosting is a partner of Carbonfund.org, a US organisation that promotes carbon reduction and offsetting, the provider doesn’t use Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
However, it does incorporate other green practices into its operations, such as ensuring older servers are recycled and running a tree planting initiative.
A2 Hosting was also one of the first providers to use SSDs (solid state drives) for storage, which consume less energy than conventional HDDs (hard disk drives).
And A2 Hosting does all of this at an affordable price – based on our research, it was found to be offering the best value for money out of all the providers we looked at.
It also scored full marks for the types of hosting it offers, with shared, VPS, reseller, dedicated, WordPress and cloud options all available. The only other provider to offer such an extensive range is InMotion.
And it also provides stellar help and support, with another 5.0 score in this category. You can contact A2 Hosting whenever and however you like, plus an online knowledge base is available to help you find the answers yourself.
And if you’re still not sure, you can submit a ticket or contact A2 Hosting 24/7 via live chat or phone.
However, A2 Hosting only offers an average set of features. While unmetered transfer and SSL certificates on all plans is great, free backups are only available on its Turbo plan – which happens to be the most expensive – and free domains aren’t included at all.
But with four shared hosting plans to choose from – the most out of the six providers – and an unmatched anytime money back guarantee available, A2 Hosting really does stand out from the crowd in terms of affordability.
|Startup||£2.32+ per month*||A2 Hosting pricing|
|Drive||£3.86+ per month*||A2 Hosting pricing|
|Turbo Boost||£7.74+ per month*||A2 Hosting pricing|
|Turbo Max||£11.61+ per month*||A2 Hosting pricing|
*These are discounted starting prices, offered on a prepaid basis, and correct at the time of writing.
A2 Hosting’s disk space offering is also strong, with all plans providing unlimited storage.
However, with 99.95% uptime, it could do better in this category, as you could expect your site to be offline in the region of four hours a year.
InMotion offers hosting services to businesses of all sizes around the world.
Its Go Green policies are particularly innovative – InMotion even has a green data centre, which is the first of its kind. Not only will its Outside Air Technology cut costs by almost 70%, but InMotion’s own carbon output will be reduced by 2,000+ tonnes each year.
InMotion is also working in partnership with Trees For The Future, a non-profit that champions eco-friendly agroforestry, with the aim of helping to plant 5,000 trees in developing countries.
While InMotion may have led the way initially with the first ever green data centre, it could still do more to promote sustainability, such as by offsetting its energy.
Like A2 Hosting, InMotion offers a solid range of types of hosting. Shared, VPS, reseller, dedicated, WordPress, and cloud hosting are all available, making InMotion an ideal choice for both new and established businesses.
And with customer service team members receiving more than 160 hours of training, you can be confident in their abilities if you need any help and support.
This is a category in which InMotion also scored 5.0, with an online support centre and ticketed assistance available. In addition, it offers 24/7 support via both live chat and phone.
However, InMotion’s features are a major let-down. It received the second lowest score in this category out of all the providers, with only lowly DreamHost having a worse score.
Offering unmetered transfer and free backups across the board is helpful. Plus, free domains and SSL certificates included on all plans are a nice touch.
But it really could do more in terms of its green features. It doesn’t use Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), and it’s not a member of an environmental organisation, either.
However, InMotion does offer good value for money, scoring a respectable 4.5 in this category. There is a generous 90-day money back guarantee available, and you can choose from the following shared hosting plans:
|Lite||$2.49+ per month*||InMotion pricing|
|Launch||$4.99+ per month*||InMotion pricing|
|Power||$4.99+ per month*||InMotion pricing|
|Pro||$12.99 per month*||InMotion pricing|
*These are discounted starting prices based on a three-year term. After this, the renewal prices apply, which currently range from $7.49-$22.99 per month. Prices are correct at time of writing.
InMotion is another strong performer in the disk space category with a perfect 5.0 score, and offers unlimited storage on all plans.
It also has strong uptime performance, with 99.97% uptime available. This means your site would typically be online for more time than with A2 Hosting, but less than with GreenGeeks.
Originally founded in 1998, iPage can now count more than 1 million websites on its platform.
But what about its green features? Well, iPage uses Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), with enough to cover double its electricity usage.
And it’s through these that iPage practices renewable energy offsetting, with the provider offsetting its electricity consumption through electricity powered by wind energy.
Because of these efforts, if you choose iPage as your hosting provider, you can proudly display an eco-friendly badge on your website – which is pretty neat.
But iPage could do more in terms of its eco-friendly offering. Indeed, it currently doesn't support tree planting initiatives or sustainable business operations, and it’s not a member of a green organisation.
iPage does offer a choice of shared, VPS, dedicated, or WordPress types of hosting. Even though reseller and cloud hosting aren’t available, this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for most small businesses.
Reseller hosting is only necessary if you’re looking to start your own hosting business, while a new or small site shouldn’t need the scalability of cloud hosting straightaway.
What you can expect from iPage is a range of help and support – indeed, it scored a flawless 5.0 in this category.
You can search for answers to your questions yourself using its online knowledge base, or submit a ticket for specific support. And there’s always the option of using its 24/7 live chat and phone assistance, too.
However, its features are distinctly average. It’s the only provider on our list not to offer unmetered transfer – instead, it’s available on a scalable basis. This means that iPage monitors bandwidth, and offers other options to sites that need more than what it’s shared architecture can provide. This could include VPS (Virtual Private Servers) hosting, for example.
Backups aren’t free, either – it costs $100 for a restore. But free domains are available, so you can save on this expense, and SSL certificates are included on all plans, so you can be sure that your site is secure.
Where iPage does pick up the pace is in terms of value for money. While it does only offer one shared hosting plan, it’s reasonably priced, and the standard 30-day money back guarantee applies.
|One plan||£1.50 per month*||iPage pricing|
*This is an introductory price, excluding VAT and based on an 12, 24, or 36 month initial term length. After this, plans are automatically renewed and regular rates apply, which cost £8.35-£8.99 per month depending on the term length. Prices are correct at time of writing.
iPage does offer unlimited disk space, and scored 5.0 in this category.
However, its uptime performance is seriously underwhelming – at 99.94%, it’s the lowest of any provider we looked at.
HostPapa hosts more than 500,000 websites, with customers located around the world.
HostPapa’s green features include Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which help it offset 100% of its equivalent energy consumption back to the grid via green power.
But HostPapa isn’t a member of a green organisation, which could certainly help to further its eco-friendly practices.
When it comes to the types of hosting on offer, things are slightly more limited – dedicated and cloud hosting aren’t available, for example. That being said, the average small business or startup has more than enough options to choose from, with shared, VPS, reseller and WordPress hosting all available.
But HostPapa falls short in its help and support offering – while an online knowledge base lets you search for help yourself, there’s no ticketed support available. And although you can contact HostPapa by live chat and phone, these aren’t 24/7 services.
The features available aren’t particularly strong, either. While HostPapa does offer unmetered transfer, free backups aren’t provided, so restoring files could work out to be costly.
Yet the free domain does go some way to balance this out, and with SSL certificates included on all plans, your site’s security is taken care of as well.
HostPapa offers three shared hosting plans, and offers decent value for money. Just be aware of its money-back guarantee conditions, which are 30 days for 12+ month subscriptions, yet only 48 hours for shorter length subscriptions.
|Starter||£1.95 per month*||HostPapa pricing|
|Business||£1.95 per month*||HostPapa pricing|
|Business Pro||£6.14 per month*||HostPapa pricing|
*These are discounted prices, which exclude VAT and are based on a 36-month term length. After this, the regular prices apply, which currently range from £6.49-£16.99 per month for the same term length. Prices are correct at the time of writing.
HostPapa scored 4.0 for its disk space, with Starter, its cheapest plan, only offering 100GB of storage.
However, the Business and Business Pro plans do offer unlimited storage, which are likely to be more suitable plans for small business websites. Then again, the Business Pro plan is more expensive than the other options, so it’s a choice between storage or savings.
Its uptime performance is reasonably strong – at 99.97%, it’s one of the better providers in this category.
DreamHost has more than 400,00 customers, and hosts more than 1.5 million websites.
But in terms of its green features, it doesn’t compare to the other providers. It doesn’t use Renewable Energy Certificates, and it doesn’t belong to any green organisations.
Instead, DreamHost’s sustainable practices are firmly focused on improving its facilities. This includes using LED lighting and cooling infrastructure in its data centres for greater efficiency.
So if you want a hosting provider that can help make your website more eco-friendly, opt for GreenGeeks or iPage, whose initiatives are more geared towards their customers.
DreamHost lets you choose from a comprehensive range of types of hosting, with shared, VPS, dedicated, WordPress, and cloud hosting on offer.
Only reseller hosting isn’t available, so if you run – or are looking to launch – a reseller hosting company, then you’ll obviously need to look elsewhere.
DreamHost’s help and support offering could be improved. An online knowledge base, ticketed support, and live chat are all provided, meaning assistance is available at the click of a button.
But with no phone support function, this means you’ll need to be online to get help. Live chat isn’t available 24/7 either, which is another limitation.
However, DreamHost’s features are even worse, with the lowest score in this category across all of the providers. DreamHost keeps up with the competition in terms of providing unmetered transfer, as well as SSL certificates on all plans. Plus, free backups and free domains are always welcome inclusions.
If price is your primary concern, however, then DreamHost does offer great value for money, with a best-in-class 5.0 score in this category. It offers two shared hosting plans, and an unusually specific 97-day money back guarantee.
|Starter||$2.59+ per month*||DreamHost pricing|
|Unlimited||$4.95+ per month*||DreamHost pricing|
*These are starting prices, based on a three-year term length, and are correct at the time of writing.
The amount of disk space you’ll get depends on your chosen plan. The Starter plan offers 50GB, while as its name suggests, the Unlimited plan offers unlimited storage.
DreamHost offers 99.95% uptime, which is an acceptable uptime performance figure, but could be better.
How we selected the best green web hosting providers for small business
Finding a green hosting provider can be a challenging process – there are so many on the market, and there’s more to it than simply selecting any provider that champions sustainability.
While some providers may shout about what they’re doing, others are more discreet. This means it can pay to do some further research to discover what exactly a provider offers that makes it so eco-friendly. This includes practices like offering employees the ability to work remotely, supporting tree planting schemes, and offsetting energy consumption.
Thankfully, we’ve done the research so you don’t have to – but how did we assess the providers included in this article?
Our research reviewed each provider based on the following six categories, which are crucial when choosing a green hosting provider for a small business:
- Types of hosting – we reviewed if providers offered shared, VPS, reseller, dedicated, WordPress, and cloud hosting
- Help and support – we investigated each providers’ support offering, including whether a knowledge centre, ticketed support, live chat and phone support (including 24/7 options for both) were available
- Features – we looked at standard functions like the possibility for unmetered transfer, free backups and free domains, as well as if SSL certificates were included. In terms of a provider’s green practices, we researched if a provider used Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), and if it was a member of a relevant green organisation. We also looked at what makes a provider green, and if any links to relevant green articles were available
- Value for money – when analysing a provider in this category, we examined the number of shared hosting plans available, and the conditions of its money-back guarantee. Plus, we reviewed the starting, highest and average prices, excluding discounts
- Disk space – this refers to the amount of storage available on a provider’s plans
- Uptime performance – this measures the reliability of a provider’s server. The higher the percentage, the more time your site will be online. Bear in mind that 100% isn’t realistic – all servers will experience some amount of downtime each year
We focused our research on shared hosting plans, as this is the most eco-friendly type. This is because shared hosting means the most amount of websites can be hosted on each server, in comparison to the other types of hosting.
And as we highlighted earlier, data centres consume a considerable amount of energy, so fewer servers equals less energy required to run them.
For more options, check out our guide to the best shared hosting for small businesses. Just note that the focus in this article is on shared hosting specifically, and not a provider’s eco-friendly offering.
How much does green web hosting cost?
Green hosting costs vary depending on the provider. In general, you can expect to pay a monthly fee, and to select from around three plans.
While all of the providers we’ve focused on offer a money-back guarantee of some sort, the precise conditions of these can be quite different, so be sure to check them.
|$2.95 - $11.95 per month||GreenGeeks pricing|
|£2.32+ - £11.61+ per month||A2 Hosting pricing|
|$2.49+ - $12.99 per month||InMotion pricing|
|£1.50 per month||iPage pricing|
|£1.95 - £6.14 per month||HostPapa pricing|
|$2.59+ - $4.95+ per month||DreamHost pricing|
Green website hosting: Our top choice
With data centres accounting for so much of the world’s energy consumption, green energy hosting is one way to help combat this problem. While it’s easy to see if a provider offers eco-friendly practices, be sure to dig a little deeper to find out more.
Working from home, recycling hardware, and supporting tree planting initiatives are just some of the ways that a hosting provider can promote sustainability.
And if you really want to use a provider that goes above and beyond, then membership of a green organisation, use of Renewable Energy Certificates, and renewable energy offsetting can all help a provider to stand out from the crowd and show a committed effort to helping the environment.
While these factors can help to point you in the right direction, it can still be difficult to choose from all the hosting providers out there. If you’re still not sure, we’d suggest choosing GreenGeeks – it’s our best overall green hosting provider. Try GreenGeeks hosting today!
What is green web hosting?
Green web hosting refers to hosting providers who resolve to care for the planet through utilising sustainable practices. This is an effort to balance the negative impact that hosting can have on the environment.
Providers can do this through a variety of means, such as using server hardware that consumes energy efficiently, as well as optimising server software. Other initiatives include using renewable energy, allowing staff to work remotely, recycling electronics, and supporting tree planting schemes.
The methodology section above provides more information about how we analysed providers.
Which type of hosting is best for my website?
In our research, we based our analysis on shared hosting – this is the best type of hosting for the environment, as multiple websites can share the same server.
While this is the optimum choice for the planet, and is particularly suitable for new or small websites, not all websites will be suited to this type of hosting.
Green hosting providers do offer other types, such as VPS or cloud, which may be more suitable for businesses that are looking to scale. Read our guide to the best hosting for small businesses for more general information.
Or, visit our page on the best ecommerce hosting for small businesses, which is particularly suitable if you run an online store, or are just interested in learning more about this type of hosting.
How much does web hosting cost?
Prices for green web hosting can vary greatly between providers. Out of the six providers included in this article, iPage offers the cheapest plan, starting at £1.50 per month. In contrast, A2 Hosting’s most expensive plan costs upwards of £11.61 per month.
Check out our guide to web hosting costs for small businesses for more detailed information.