How much does that Google search cost?

Last night we went to a talk on energy production and consumption sponsored by the Montgomery County Planning Board. One person in the audience asked the speaker about energy costs and telecommunications. I think the speaker missed the point of the question (which was tied to per capita energy consumption) but it did raise one interesting question for me: How much does a Google search cost?

Think about it. You know that you are paying for the electricity to power your computer, monitor, and modem (plus any other network infrastructure in your home or office), but what about the power necessary to run the Google server farms and the telecommunications infrastructure needed to carry your request and its responses round trip from your computer or handheld device to Google and back? How many Google (or other search provider) searches do you do in a day? For that answer, let’s just say several hundred million Google searches are done daily (ever try to Google Google data on the fly?) I know that I use Google several times a day. Even though I’m not paying Google for each search I conduct (or Google Cloud app I use), I know that somewhere down the line everyone is paying for my Google searches. I’m just curious what each one costs — maybe I’ll think twice about hitting that “Google Search” button the next time I absolutely can’t live without knowing how many Google searches are done daily.