Study: Annual Cost of Charging an iPad (and iPhone) Less Than a Cup of Coffee

Posted by · June 25, 2012 3:18 pm

It costs $1.36 to charge an iPad for a yearA new study from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) holds some refreshing news for iPad and iPhone owners. Looking to determine how much of a toll these increasingly popular devices have on the nation’s power use, the EPRI—a non-profit research group funded by electric utilities—found that the annual cost of charging an iPad is a mere $1.36. And the Apple tablet’s smartphone counterpart was an even more paltry 38 cents.

These costs contrast quite significantly with the annual price of powering a fluorescent light bulb ($1.61), a desktop PC ($28.21), or a refrigerator ($65.72). In fact, a single Starbucks run will cost well over what it takes to keep your Apple device running strong for the year.

To perform the study, EPRI researcher Baskar Vairmohan measured the amount of electricity it took to recharge a completely drained iPad battery. Assuming that the average user would only need to do recharge the latest Apple tablet every other day, Vairmohan found that it would take a total of 11.86 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. At a national average of 11.49 cents per kilowatt-hour, that comes to $1.36 per year.

The AP observes: “If the number of iPads triples from the current 67 million, they would need the electricity from one small power plant operating at full strength.”

Assuming that such a massive tablet buy-in by consumers is complemented by a sharp decline in the use of televisions and desktops—whose primary functions may well be (at least partially) eclipsed by tablets—this would mean an impressive reduction in energy consumption. Although it’s hard to imagine people ditching their flatscreens and desktops anytime soon, the attractive feature of being able to stream movies and play video games anywhere and anytime with a tablet is all but certain to drastically reduce our use of these more static devices.

Such a shift toward more energy-efficient devices (and appliances) is evidenced by plummeting consumer demand for electricity, which is reportedly set to fall for a third year in a row.

Of course, the AP report notes, this decreased power consumption is helped along in part by a still-struggling economy, which has kept larger groups of people in smaller homes. The true test will be how conscious Americans are of their power consumption after the economy fully recovers.

What do you think? In a healthy economy, will more energy-efficient devices reduce power consumption or simply lead to increased use? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

For more about the EPRI study on the cost of charging an iPad…