Direct Current’s Energy Unit Calculator

on June 29, 2016 at 5:00 PM

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We recently released the second episode of Direct Current, our new podcast. In this episode, Paul Lester and I propose some new energy units — burritos, Mt. Rushmore, a New York Minute and the Moon Landing — our way of making energy consumption easier to understand.

We thought you might want to explore these units more, and see how they compare to your everyday energy use. Buying a new dryer that uses about 3 kWh per cycle? Plug that value into the calculator above and you’ll find that it’s about 2.15 Burritos. Gas bill says that you used 100 Therms last January? That’s 1,200 burritos — and almost enough to carve one of the faces of Mt. Rushmore.

Plug some more energy statistics into the calculator above and see how they compare to our new energy units, plus a new — very, very large — unit: an Alderaan. To learn more about these units, listen to Episode 2 of Direct Current here. If you want to learn more about what an “Alderaan” is, click here to listen to Los Alamos National Laboratory physicist Cathy Plesko estimate how much energy the Death Star required to blow up poor little Alderaan in a galaxy far, far away. The Energy Information Administration’s State Energy Data System is a great place to find energy data to use in this calculator.

Want to know even more about comparing your energy use to some unusual things from the real world? Check out this post from 2014 that compares your yearly energy use to several other interesting units — like pounds of coal, the distance flown by a 747, and how many times Marty McFly could make it back to the future in a year.

Data, calculations and sources can be found here. Feel free to email me with any questions at [email protected].