Hours ... Seconds ... Whatever

Written by David Rosnick   
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 14:58

Over at Heritage, Diane Katz makes a tiny little error today in her piece on the regulation of energy use by appliances.  Arguing that the “standby mode” on microwave ovens consumes a minuscule amount of energy over the course of a year, Katz writes:

"But a typical U.S. household consumes about 11,000 KWh of electricity per year. Based on testing done by the department, a microwave oven in “standby mode” consumes an average of just 2.65 watts of power. On an annualized basis, that constitutes a mere .006452 KWh of electricity."

Indeed, 0.006452 kWh per year is not a large amount of power—merely 0.00006 percent of typical household consumption.  By comparison, 0.00006 percent of all federal spending ($3.7 trillion in 2011) comes to $2.2 million— about equal to seven minutes of spending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ($159 billion).

Unfortunately, 2.65 Watts actually comes to 23.2 kilowatt-hours per year— a figure 3600 times larger.  Thus, a single unused microwave accounts for 0.2 percent of the annual electricity in the typical household.

If that still seems small, consider that 0.2 percent of all federal spending comes to $7.8 billion—a figure 87 times larger than the federal government’s funding of NPR ($90 million.)

UPDATE: Katz has corrected the error.