Each Year, 75,000 Homes Waste as Much Energy as Contained in Entire BP Gulf Spill


Image via Energy Savvy

Despite the fact that the BP Gulf spill continues, with no clear end in sight, many have already concerned themselves with the task of putting the event into the perspective of US energy consumption in general. Case in point: this graphic, which points out that the energy wasted by 75,000 homes a year equals the energy contained in the biggest oil spill in US history. The point seems to be that this spill, which occurred because our demand for energy has grown so high that we've resorted to risky procedures to meet it, is but a drop in the bucket amongst all the energy we waste on a routine basis.

Here's the group Energy Savvy, who came up with the graphic, explaining their creation (via Grist):


  • The energy contained in the biggest oil spill in U.S. history is equal to the energy that just 75,000 homes waste in a single year.

  • The estimated cost to clean up the oil spill ($40 B) is many times greater than the cost to retrofit 75,000 houses ($1 B) and save the energy equivalent of the gulf oil spill every year.

  • 75,000 houses = mid-sized U.S. city or large suburb of a major city, like Chattanooga, Tenn. or Providence, R.I.

  • The oil spill, since it began in April 2010, has leaked between 25 - 50 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. We're using a conservative estimate of around 30 million gallons for our calculations.

  • A typical house wastes 30 percent more energy than an efficient one does. On average, that means that 51 MMBtu's are being wasted by a typical home every year.

  • A typical home energy retrofit costs around $10,000 per house -- before any utility or governments energy rebates are applied. A home energy retrofit doesn't just save energy for a single year -- it prevents waste year after year on an ongoing basis once it's done.

Dave Roberts notes that there's indeed a practical application to the comparisons, in the Home Star legislation currently languishing in the Senate. It would "spur the retrofit of 3.3 million homes, enough to save the energy floating in the Gulf 44 times over, at roughly 1/40 the cost of mopping it up," he writes.

Regardless of whether Congress ever gets its act together on that worthy bill, the graphic provides an interesting way to put the energy component of the Gulf tragedy into perspective.

More on the BP Gulf Spill
The Political Impact of the BP Gulf Spill So Far
Breaking Down the BP Gulf Spill Blame Game

Tags: Congress | Energy Efficiency | Gulf Oil Spill | Oil Spill | United States