How Many Americans Have Multiple Computers?

Back in 1978, personal computers were expensive pieces of equipment and not something you'd find in most U.S. homes. So when the U.S. Energy Information Administration sought out to determine the frequency of personal computers in homes today, they knew there'd be an increase. But how big was it? How many American homes are working with multiple computers? How many catch the tube on multiple TVs? And how many rechargeable electronic devices do most homes have? Check out the study when you read more.

How many people are rocking double desks (like the one in that top photo from this post) at home? Over 24 million households:


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This graph, from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, shows how many TVs, computers and other electronic devices are in American households in 2009. It's a cool chart to see how you measure up to the rest of the country in terms of tech gear.


All That Gear Takes a Lot of Juice
Of course, this study was all about consumption and efficiency. Their goal? To see how much more energy most American families use up using their personal electronics, compared to 1978. Why? To figure out if the increased use of consumer electronics has offset the efficiency gains of major appliances.

What did they find?

Over the past three decades, the share of residential electricity used by appliances and electronics in U.S. homes has nearly doubled from 17 percent to 31 percent, growing from 1.77 quadrillion Btu (quads) to 3.25 quads. This rise has occurred while Federal energy efficiency standards were enacted on every major appliance, overall household energy consumption actually decreased from 10.58 quads to 10.55 quads, and energy use per household fell 31 percent.


So, yeah. Ever since the federal government decided to crack down on the efficiency of appliances, we're all using a lot less energy than before to run our homes. But it's all for nothing, because we keep plugging in power suckers like plasma TVs and recharging three or four personal gadgets every day, so we end up almost back where we started in 1978:


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So what can you do at home? Just be aware of exactly how much energy from your home goes into powering your 3 TVs and 2 computers, then act accordingly.

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Taryn is a writer, maker, designer, and editor of lifestyle blog Formal Fringe. She lives in an apartment in Atlanta with her fiancé, their Boston Terrier and lots of serving dishes.