We looked at 40 of the best shows on Netflix according to TimeOut Magazine, recording the total length of all seasons and episodes for each one. We were then able to calculate the total amount of energy that the average TV and router would use to play the entirety of each show. This revealed how much they would cost us to watch.
Bear in mind that these average energy prices were taken prior to the recent price hikes seen so far in 2022, therefore, it could cost even more to binge-watch these shows in the present day.
We also calculated how much CO2 would be produced from watching our favourite shows. The European Environment Agency states that the average mature tree absorbs approximately 22 kg of CO2 per year, and as watching all 40 of the selected TV shows would produce just shy of 11 kg of CO2, it would take a single tree about 6 months to remove those emissions from the atmosphere.
When you consider how many thousands of times these shows have been viewed and how many other shows are out there, the number of trees needed to remove all that CO2 is enormous!
1. Orange is the New Black Runtime: 91 hours
Cost to watch: £1.32 CO2 Emissions: 1.043 kg
Orange is the New Black, or OITNB for short, took audiences by storm when it first aired in 2013 and kept audiences captivated for 7 seasons until it finally stopped airing in 2019. The show follows the lives of several female inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary, a fictional prison in New York, depicting how they have to adapt to survive life behind bars.
With a total cumulative runtime of 91 hours, this show is quite the commitment for any first-time viewer. This long runtime means that watching all of OITNB will use the most energy, which we calculated would cost you £1.32 and produce 1.043 kg of CO2 before you finish the last episode.
2. House of Cards Runtime: 60.82 hours
Cost to watch: £0.88 CO2 Emissions: 0.6971 kg
The first few seasons of House of Cards was a runaway success, following the dastardly plots of Frank Underwood in his quest for political power, and ultimately the Presidency of the United States. However, the show’s rating began to slip slightly, due to the lead actor Kevin Spacey becoming the subject of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, leading to his departure from the show and his character’s wife taking centre stage.
House of Cards spans 6 seasons, running from 2013 to 2018, and has a total runtime of 60.82 hours. The electricity cost of watching the entire show would be £0.88, while 0.6971 kg of CO2 would also be produced.
3. Narcos & Narcos: Mexico Runtine: 53.5 hours
Cost to watch: £0.78 CO2 Emissions: 0.6132 kg
Narcos is a highly successful Netflix series that tells the story of Pablo Escobar and the DEA’s struggle to shut down the infamous Cali drugs cartel. Running for 3 seasons from 2015 to 2017, its success led to a sequel show Narcos: Mexico, which focuses on the Mexican drug war of the 1980s and the rise of the Guadalajara cartel.
With a total combined runtime of 53.5 hours, watching all of Narcos and its sequel would cost £0.78 in electricity, and produce 0.6131 kg of CO2.