Much Energy do our Gadgets Consume?

It’s hard to imagine that an act as small as charging your phone can impact global energy consumption. But before you plug in and leave the room with all your gadgets switched on, consider this: there are more mobile devices in need of charging than there are humans on Earth.

That means that, added together, the energy we use for our household devices makes a big difference. Interestingly, a desktop computer burns through the most electricity. If you look at how many people have a desktop versus how many have a TV, however, it turns out that overall, TVs consume far more energy than anything else — and add a console or cable box to the TV and the energy used is even higher.

The infographic here helps you compare the energy needs of the gadgets you or your students might have at home. The stats were taken from a 2012 study in the United States, where the total number of devices and their annual consumption is roughly ten times higher than in Canada – but the per-device electricity consumption is the same for Canadian gadgets. 


Added together, small savings make big changes. Your students can try out these ideas in the classroom or at home:

  • Exorcise phantom power: When your electronic devices are plugged in but not doing anything, they still use energy. Plug your TV, cable box, game console and phone charger into a power bar that can easily be switched on and o­ff.
  • Run appliances during “o­ff -peak” hours. It’s cheaper and puts less stress on the grid.
  • Many devices have an energy saving mode; use it.
  • Check your TV or computer monitor’s brightness settings. Dimming it just a little can dramatically decrease its power consumption.

More information about Pollution Probe:

Pollution Probe is a Canadian charitable environmental organization that is a leading agent of change at the intersection of communities, health and environment. Its approach is to define environmental problems through research, to promote understanding through education and to press for practical solutions through advocacy. Its objective is to advance public policy that results in positive and tangible environmental change

More information about Energy Exchange

Energy Exchange, a division of Pollution Probe, is dedicated to advancing energy literacy in Canada. It aspires to a future in which Canadians are united in their energy prosperity, rather than divided by their energy options.