In early May, Google announced it would be adding artificial intelligence to its search engine. When the new feature rolled out, AI Overviews began offering summaries to the top of queries, whether you wanted them or not — and they came at an invisible cost. 

Each time you search for something like “how many rocks should I eat” and Google’s AI “snapshot” tells you “at least one small rock per day,” you’re consuming approximately three watt-hours of electricity, according to Alex de Vries, the founder of Digiconomist, a research company exploring the unintended consequences of digital trends. That’s ten times the power consumption of a traditional Google search, and roughly equivalent to the amount of power used when talking for an hour on a home phone. (Remember those?)

Collectively, de Vries calculates that adding AI-generated answers to all Google searches could easily consume as much electricity as the country of Ireland.