And two such liberals (Todd Moss and Priscilla Agyapong) are quoting a 2008 EPA study claiming that Christmas lights use a whopping 6.6 billion kilowatt-hours, or a miniscule 0.2% of the nation's electricity use, according to the same study.
Before getting into much math, I wonder if Todd and Priscilla have a big flat-screen TV that uses 125 watts, or maybe a modern computer system that uses 250 watts? Compare that to a tree with five 5 watt strands of LED Christmas lights totalling 25 watts. Without a calculator, you can deduce they use 5 to 10 times more denial than the average Christian. Is it denial or just ignorance? Either way, it all ends up as hypocrisy.
Skipping the math (and looking at the back of the blog) a Christmas tree with five strands of LED lights, using a miniscule 5 watts each, running 14 hours a night for 30 nights, together use about 3,500 times less energy than someone on the slightly higher end of the transportation sector, getting 20 miles per gallon and driving 20,000 miles a year. That's almost ten times less than the 0.2% figure, a touch less than 0.03%
The EPA study adds that this 6.6 billion kw-hr of energy could run 14 million refrigerators. Well, it could run 7.5 trillion refrigerators, one for every person in Earth, but only for 55.6 seconds.
|Joe Johnson's Ford F650 probably uses as much energy as 14,000 Christmas displays|
Here's a website that provides monthly energy consumption of all the things in and around your home, from swimming pools to a satellite box.
Looking at all six refrigerstors at this site, the newest and most energy efficient refrigerator uses 41 kw-hrs a month, while a 20 year old frige with a bit more cubic feet uses 135. Dividing 135 by 41 in our head we see that the newer and smaller frige uses about 3.28 times less energy.
Dividing 6.6 billion kw-hr by 14 million and dividing again by 135 gives 3.5 months of operation for these 14 million energy hogging refrigerators. The most efficient would run for 11.5 months. Now you get the idea of the difference between energy and power.
Energy is like a lump of coal or a gallon of gas. Power is how quickly you burn it. Both a 600 horsepower Corvette and a 150 horsepower Cavalier can have 10 gallons of gas in their tank. Both will have 10 times 36.6 kilowatt-hours of energy at their disposal. However, we all know a 600 hp engine will blow through that gas 4 times faster than the 150 hp engine.
And since we all love cars so much, and we can all relate to driving much more easily than heating our homes, and because cars can sometimes be run on electricity (be it from coal or gasoline), then we'll use the nation's gasoline consumption as a comparison to Christmas lights. Moreover, the transportation sector uses about the same amount of energy as residential homes, 28% vs 21%, respectively, of the total US energy usage (in 2007).
The EPA study cited by Moss and Agyapong was a 2008 study, and the closest I have is the 2009 World Almanac with 2006 stats from the US DOT, the American Petroleum Institute, the Federal Highway Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The US average for miles driven was 14,862 per licensed driver and 12,345 per registered vehicle. The average miles per gallon was a paltry 16.76 mpg and the number of gallons used per vehicle was 737 gallons. There were 816 vehicles per 1,000 residents.
The US population was 301,621,157 in 2007 according to the US Census Bureau. To arrive at a good number for 2006, we can simply extrapolate. In 2000 the population was 281,421,906 according to the census. Simply find the difference between 2000 and 2007, divide by 7, and subtract that number from the 2007 population to find the 2006 population.
(301,621,157 - 281,421,906) / 7 = 2,885,607
301,621,157 - 2,885,607 = 298,735,550 residents
With 816 vehicles per 1000 residents, we get 243,768,209 vehicles. Multiply 737 gallons by 243,768,209 vehicles and we get 179,657,200,000 gallons. That's about 180 billion gallons.
If Christmas lights used 6.6 billion kilowatt-hours, simply divide by the energy per gallon of gas to get the equivalent amount of gasoline the Christmas lights consumed (assuming 100% conversion efficiency).
6.6 billion kw-hrs / 36.6 kw-hrs = 180,327,869 gallons
It's easy math to see that 180 billion divided by 180 million is a thousand. Therfore, registered vehicles used 1000 times more energy than Christmas lights, assuming their energy source (usually coal) is converted to electricity at 100% efficiency.
But, that's not the case. According to some research I did for another blog (CFL lights and mercury emissions) I discovered that coal fired power plants operate somewhere between 22% and 32% efficiency, depending on the type of coal they purchased. Basically, somewhere between 1/5th and 1/3rd the energy in coal actually reaches your outlet.
This knocks your 1000x factor down to the 220 to 320 range. We'll split the difference and go with 270. That means the average vehicle used 270 times more energy than the average Christmas light display.
Instead of a national average, let's go with some specifics. Let's say a hypocrite liberal in her SUV or minivan averages 20 mpg and drives 20,000 miles a year. That's 1,000 gallons. Let's also consider those of you who use only 500 gallons (10,000 mi @ 20 mpg, 20,000 mi @ 40 mpg, or 15,000 @ 30 mpg).
Divide by, say... 333 driving days a year (assuming you have weekends off, holidays off, an couple weeks off) and you get 3 gallons a day for the high end of the scale, and 1.5 gallons a day for the low end. Multiply that by the 36.6 kw-hrs per gallon, and you use about 100 or about 50 kw-hrs a day.
Compare that to what I heard on the news, that a big Christmas display uses 500 watts. That's about 100 strands of LEDs using 5 watts each. Five watts of LED lights is about as bright as a 60 watt incandescent bulb. That's a BIG display. That would run a 1000 watt microwave oven for 30 minutes of every hour. That's a LOT. That would heat your home.
Multiply 500 watts by about 14 hours of dark per day (at my latitude of 40 degrees, about that of most of the population of the lower 48, I have 13.5 hours). That comes to 7 kw-hrs a night. That's a lot less than the 50 or 100 your car uses in a day.
But, we were using a 500 watt Christmas display. How about a more normal display, like a Christmas tree with five strands of LED lights using 5 watts each? That's 25 watts and is 20 times less power than a 500 watt display. So, 7 kw-hrs a night drops to 7/20ths, or about 1/3rd of a kw-hr.
The SUV (or pickup or van) at 100 kw-hr a day uses 300 times more energy than that. The same vehicle driven half as much (or the 30 and 40 mpg vehicles described above) use 150 times more energy each day. Multiply by 12 months and the vehicle uses either 3600 times more energy, or 1800 times more.
Switching back to annual usage...
Let's assume your HUGE Christmas display runs 30 days a year. That's 210 kw-hrs. Compare that to 1000 gallons of gas, which would be 36.6 Megawatt-hours.
36.6 Megawatt-hrs / 210 kw-hrs = 174
Basically, an average US personal vehicle getting 20 mpg, driven about the most miles per year as anyone, uses 174 times more energy as a HUGE Christmas display does in a month.
However, what about the person who drives half as many miles (10,000) or gets twice the gas milesge (40 mpg), or drives 15,000 miles at 30 mpg? Their car uses 87 times more energy than a huge Christmas display.
|I'll bet Angie Harmon has ten times the class of Sarah Silverman|
What about us normal people? We don't put up 100 strands of 5 watts each. Maybe we do about 5 strands? That's 20 times less energy. So, our car would use 174 times 20 times more energy, or about 3500 times more energy.
|James Harrison's Smart Car probably gets 40 mpg|
Of course, if that person got 40 mpg or only drove 10,000 miles, cut that factor in half: 3500 / 2 = 1750
Now, how about a true environmentalist like myself, and not some hypocrite liberal in a regular car or pickup? People like me ride bicycles, or drive cars that get Prius-like mpg, or ride motorcycles that get 60, 70 or 80 mpg. And we probably drive 5,000 to 10,000 miles a year.
All in all, people like me use between 125 and 250 gallons of gas a year. Therefore, that 1750 figure drops to a half or a fouth of that: 875 and 437. Even us fuel mizers use 500 to 1000 times more energy in our vehicles than our moderate-sized Christmas display.
If you feel guilty about your 500 watt Christmas display, you could easily make up for that by driving a little less, riding a bike once a week, opening your home's windows to heat and cool the place, or turn off the liberal news on TV and play a board game.