I used 2.5% the average American’s electric power last month

January 10, 2021 by Joshua
in Habits, Nature

For those keeping track, I unplugged my fridge on November 22not to save power, though it did. Listen to my podcast episode Why Unplug? to learn my motivation, but briefly, it’s to practice resilience and reduce my entitlement and dependence.

I’m reporting after receiving my latest electric bill.

My results

Here’s my power use over the past year. Last winter I unplugged my fridge in late December, so this winter I added an extra month unplugged. You can see my power use lower, to about 0.75 kWh per day.

I’ll put average American electrical power uses below. First, money.


Here’s the part of my bill itemizing my use: $2.30 for the month!

For comparison, I can get a AA battery for around 50 cents. In a way, I powered my whole apartment on less than five AA batteries.

For the record, I dress warm so haven’t used the heat. My building has central heat and air conditioning, so my neighbors heat or cool my floor, ceiling, and walls, which I pay for through my maintenance.

Likewise, the building has lots of lights outdoors and other power uses, so I’m responsible for power uses not in these costs. I wash my laundry in the basement, but only wash. I air dry up on a clothing drying rack. I haven’t taken the elevator in months, maybe in all of 2020. I don’t keep track. I just take the stairs.

Fixed charges

I pay fixed charges nearly ten times my power use. I’m paying for an overbuilt power grid satisfying more than anyone needs for their safety, health, security, or happiness.

Comparison: American averages

Here are American averages broken out by region and home type. All told, Americans average

  • 11,000 kWh per year, which is
  • 30 kWh per day, which is
  • 40 times more than me!
  • I use 2.5% the average American

I’ll bet they aren’t 40 times happier, safer, healthier, or more secure than me.

I found the chart below splitting power use by purpose.

See the 2.5% vertical line? Each bar passing it uses more power for that use than I use at all. In other words, the average American uses more power

  • Drying clothes
  • Refrigerating
  • Air conditioning

than I use at all. I left out Water Heating because my building heats water, though I think with natural gas, so I benefit from it. I’m not sure what to make of there being more bars than labels. Maybe for space they didn’t label all uses.


I could probably adjust for heating and washing clothes. On the other hand, I’ve eaten every meal at home, so no restaurants. I haven’t driven. I don’t think I took the subway or buses in the past few months. I’ve ridden my bike or walked most places.

One-fifth of my showers are cold and my average shower length is only a few minutes so I figure I use a lot less power there too.

I think most other adjustments are small, though open to corrections.

(For the record, I don’t take cold or short showers for environmental reasons. Cold showers I wrote several posts about. As for short showers, I used to take longer ones, but gradually found myself taking shorter ones. Partly I think of pollution it forced on others, partly once I’m clean, I’m ready to do my next thing.)

Could I go off grid?

Does anyone out there want to help me try to go off grid, at least during months I unplug my fridge? I’m not sure if my windows get enough light for solar to power my pressure cooker and blender, which probably draw serious current, though only for a few minutes (pressure cooker) or seconds (blender) every few days.

I don’t have experience installing solar, but if anyone wants to help me try, I’m game. I’d love to go off-grid in Manhattan.

Update: My January bill

Here is my next month’s bill, even lower:

My fixed charges:

My electrical charges:

Read my weekly newsletter

On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

1 response to “I used 2.5% the average American’s electric power last month

  1. Pingback: My latest ecological footprint, according to online calculator: 0.8 tonnes of CO2 annually » Joshua Spodek

Leave a Reply

Sign up for my weekly newsletter