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In the US, we currently use an average of about 935 kWh of electricity a month per household. About 68% of that is used by the things plugged into our outlets, and about 10-15% of that, 5-10% of the total, is consumed by parasitic loads of devices in stand-by. Currently, we only get told how much energy we are consuming once a month, in the form of an energy bill, that just lists the number of kWh (kilowatt-hours) used. This is not put in context at all, unfortunately, which makes it hard to act on. In fact, it doesn't even necessarily tell you what a kilowatt-hour is. A watt is the amount of energy used by a device for a certain amount of time, such as a 100 watt bulb. A kilowatt is 1000 watts. A kilowatt-hour is 1000 watts on for one hour. A 100 watt bulb, on for 10 hours, would consume 1 kWh. We use 935 of those a month, on average. Up to about 90 of those a month are on devices that we aren't actually intending to use.

We only get told how much energy we are consuming once a month
Digital clocks on microwaves, DVD players, coffee makers, and other devices can consume a lot of energy if left on.Credit: Flickr
A chart of common device parasitic draws can be found here. This is a good place to learn what your devices that you think are off are actually consuming 24 hours a day. You could always try to find this out yourself to get better numbers (find out how in the How We Get There section), or you could just turn everything off and use power strips to make sure you aren't consuming any extra power.

All together, just residential buildings account for 13% of CO2 emissions in the world, currently. In the US, this number is closer to 17%. This means that total residential electrical usage makes up almost 4% of global CO2 emissions. This may not seem like a lot, but it is likely to increase in the future unless we do something. Reducing this is not hard and it would be a step in the right direction, it'll save money, and all we have to do is be a bit more diligent in our energy usage.

EIA - Electicity usage year end review 2007
Year end review of electricity usage in 2007.
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EIA - Electricity by end use
Electricity usage in American homes by category of appliance.
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World Resources Institute - Global GHG Flowchart
Flowchart showing source, end use, and type of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
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US EIA Emissions Flowchart
Graphical representation of the greenhouse gas emissions in the US in 2007 via different sectors and sources.
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