Electricity By the Numbers

  • 1,200: The dollar amount the average American household spends on new electronics annually.
  • 20-40: Number of gadgets the average American keeps on stand by, that suck up energy even when turned off. Televisions, computers, electric toothbrushes, phones, radios and more all use up energy and money when they aren’t even in use.
  • One percent: The total percent of carbon dioxide emissions emitted each year from devices left on standby.
  • 230 million: The number of products with battery charging systems currently in use in American homes and businesses.
  • 1.5 billion: The number of external power adapters, also known as power supplies, currently in use to power small electronic devices—that’s about five for every person. The total electricity flowing through all types of power supplies makes up about 11 percent of the national electric bill.
  • 3 million: Tons of household electronics tossed by Americans in 2006.
  • 700 million: The number of used cell phones in the US today. Each of the 140 million cell phone users discards their old phone for a new one every 14 to 18 months.
  • 300 million: Number of obsolete computers in the U.S. today.
  • 70 percent: The percentage of e-waste out of the entire toxic waste stream of landfills. In addition to valuable metals like aluminum, electronics often contain hazardous materials like lead and mercury.
  • 50 percent: The amount of a computer that is recycled. The rest is dumped. Non-recyclable components of a single computer may contain almost two kilograms of lead.
  • 75 to 80 percent: The percentage of old computers from the United States wind up in Asian countries such as India and China, where recycling costs are much lower.

By Jaymi Heimbuch, Planet Green


Bob P.
Bob P7 years ago

interesting thanks

beverly g.
beverly g.8 years ago

thks readble and useful.

Julie F.
Julie F8 years ago


Beng Kiat Low
low beng kiat8 years ago


Gavan A.
Gavan A8 years ago

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

gail d.
gail dair8 years ago


Janice P.
Janice P8 years ago

I am apparently well below the average for any of the things listed. I did not even have a cellphone until a little over a year ago. And, I bought it right after my mother had surgery, only so my mother or a hospital or doctor could call me at any moment.

My cellphone is extremely basic (no texting, no games, no
voice mail, no frills of any kind). I see anything else as a mere waste. I never thought I had to have the latest electronic toy or gadget.) My cellphone is the only product I have with a battery charging system. And, that is rarely used now, because the cellphone is rarely used since my mother died in December.

I just bought my first computer in February. Before that, I used the one at the public library. The only reason I bought my own was that I had accumulated over 6,000 e-mails by the time my mother died, and I could have never gotten enough screen time, to get through all of them. It is completely turned off when not in use.

The only things I have that are constantly plugged in are my refrigerator and my landline telephone. My parents taught me frugality, economy, and self-restraint. When I look at my electric bill and compare it to those of my friends and neighbors, I give my parents a silent "thank you". They may be gone now, but their wise teachings about saving and conserving remain, and they continue to live on in so many ways by helping this planet through what they taught me.

Elizabeth Vanderpool

so much of this stuff can be donated to others in need of it . . My husband is a huge supporter of donating computers and electronics phones to those in more deprived neighborhoods

Chandra B.
Chandra B9 years ago

time to have an electronics give away.

Tanik Tri R
Tanik Tr9 years ago