BUSINESS
12/24/2015 10:43 am ET

U.S. Christmas Lights Burn More Energy Than Some Nations In A Year

Developing countries face pressure to use renewable energy, but maybe we should unplug our decorations.
This year's Christmas tree at Macy's Center City in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Americans' holiday decorations use 6.6 billio
Gilbert Carrasquillo via Getty Images
This year's Christmas tree at Macy's Center City in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Americans' holiday decorations use 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, the Center for Global Development has found.

Christmas lights suck up a tiny fraction of all the electricity Americans use annually, but it's more than some developing nations consume in an entire year, researchers have found.

El Salvador, Cambodia and Tanzania are some of the countries that use less power than the seasonal lights Americans string up, according to the Center for Global Development.   

In an interview with NPR, researcher Todd Moss said that it's a useful comparison because many developing countries face pressure to use more renewable sources of energy. 

Though switching to cleaner sources of power is important, Moss said, the graph he developed with Priscilla Agyapong shows poorer countries like Nepal and Ethiopia are just a drop in the bucket compared to the U.S.

"It's pretty rich for me to sit in Washington, D.C., and tell Ghana they can't build one natural gas power plant," Moss told NPR.

Americans' holiday decorations use 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, which is enough to run 14 million refrigerators, according to the researchers. But that only accounts  for 0.2 percent of total electrical usage.

Moss and Agyapong used data from the US Department of Energy and the World Bank. 

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