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The US Uses More Electricity on Christmas Lights Than Many Countries Use in an Entire Year


December 26, 2015
Elliot Hannon / Slate & Todd Moss and Priscilla Agyapong / Center for Global Development

A 2008 study from the US Energy Department's Energy Information Administration found that decorative seasonal lights in the United States accounted for 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity consumption every year. That's just more than the entire national electricity consumption of many developing countries, including El Salvador, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nepal, and Cambodia.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/12/24/u_s_uses_more_electricity_on_christmas_lights_than_these_countries_do_all.html

The US Uses More Electricity on Christmas
Lights Than These Entire Countries Do All Year

Elliot Hannon / Slate



(Hello there, average American Christmas reveler. Things are looking good for the homestretch: You've got your tree all set, perhaps a few lights strung up around the yard to show the neighbors that life's good, and you're dealing with mild, but totally manageable anxiety about whether Amazon's going to pull through for you today or not.

You've got a lot of good things on your plate. With all this #gratitude, it seems like an appropriate time for a quick reminder that beneath the veneer of holiday goodness, we're all still horrible, gluttonous people.

Exhibit A: Your Christmas Lights. (via the Center for Global Development) [See below -- EAW]

A 2008 study from the US Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that decorative seasonal lights accounted for 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity consumption every year in the United States. That's just 0.2% of the country's total electricity usage ; ; ; It's also more than the national electricity consumption [FOR THE YEAR] of many developing countries, such as El Salvador, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nepal, or Cambodia.

For the year! Maybe you didn't need that last $4 strand of flashing Santa-shaped lights, no?



If you're feeling comforted by the fact that you are, like, way greener than you were in 2008 when the EIA data was collected -- which is so long ago it was a pre-Instagram world -- Todd Moss of the Center for Global Development tells NPR you're probably sucking down as much now as you always have from the power grid.

Merry Christmas! Don't ever change, America.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter.


US Holiday Lights Use More Electricity than El Salvador Does In a Year
Todd Moss and Priscilla Agyapong / Center for Global Development

(December 18, 2015) -- At this time of the year, sparkling trees and decorated lawns have taken over. A 2008 study from the US Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that decorative seasonal lights accounted for 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity consumption every year in the United States.

That's just 0.2% of the country's total electricity usage, but it could run 14 million refrigerators. It's also more than the national electricity consumption of many developing countries, such as El Salvador, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nepal, or Cambodia.

Lights at home are probably the most visible use of electricity. For American households, lighting alone accounts for 14% of total residential electricity consumption. Yet electricity powers so much more than lights and the majority of electricity is used, often invisibly, outside of the home. But how much more?

Using data from the EIA and the UN, we calculated the aggregate electricity consumed by households as a ratio of total national electricity in all countries with available household census data for 2010-11.

The range is from Korea (where just 14% of electricity is consumed by households) to Ghana (57%). For most countries, the rate is 25-35% and the (unweighted) global average is about 30%.

Put another way, 70% of electricity is used outside homes in the industrial and commercial sectors. That may partly explain why governments aim beyond residential systems when they commit to develop their energy sectors.

Political leaders want to build modern energy systems to power a competitive economy, create jobs, and generate wealth. That's also why solar lamps and off-grid residential systems are useful for some purposes, but will only be one component of any national energy strategy.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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