Your Daily Power Use

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Here’s how much gas, coal, oil, wind, solar, water, or nuclear fuel is required.

Like any good consumer, you’ve filled your home with power-thirsty screens and toasters. And they make your average American abode chug 30 kilowatt-hours of electricity every single day. (A kilowatt-hour, by the way, is 1,000 watts used over one hour. But you knew that.) Producing your daily juice requires various amounts of gas, coal, oil, wind, solar, water, or nuclear fuel, depending on your energy sources.

If your House relied on One Source of energy, your hose would use the following:

Solar panels You’d need: 450 square feet One 300-watt, 18-square-foot solar panel can transform an average day of California sunshine into 1.2 kilowatt-hours. So you’d need to screw about 25 of them onto your Hollywood roof to cover one spin of the globe.

Natural gas You’d need: 324 cubic feet This stuff burns cleaner and cheaper than coal, and it’s plentiful (thanks, fracking), which is why it recently topped all other electricity sources: 34 percent of what we consume. You would need about 41 bathtubs full each day.

Wind You’d need: 54 seconds Given a strong, steady wind, a typical turbine can spin out 2 megawatt hours of electricity per hour. Keeping the lights on and the Netflix streaming for a full 24 would take less than a minute. What a breeze.

Water You’d need: 24,000 gallons Pouring a 640-square-foot swimming pool of water through the Hoover Dam’s turbines would produce your daily electrical consumption in less than a second. That makes hydro our most productive renewable.

Coal You’d need: 33 pounds As this dirtiest of fossil fuels loses ground to natural gas, it’s used less and less often to generate electricity. To keep the typical home running round-the-clock on coal, you’d have to set two bowling balls’ worth ablaze.

Enriched uranium You’d need 0.02 ounces Nuclear fission packs an insane energy punch. It would take just a tiny amount of uranium—less than a paper clip weighs—to turn water into the steam that spins the turbine that ultimately produces the day’s juice.

Oil You’d need: 3 gallons This energy-dense fuel drives most of our cars, trucks, and jets. In 2016, however, it accounted for the least portion—1 percent—of residential electricity. A house run on oil would slurp six two-liter soda bottles’ worth daily.

 

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