Penny Power

July 29, 2019

Do you remember when “penny candy” actually cost a penny? What does a penny buy these days? Not much. The government can’t even make a penny for a penny anymore. According to the U.S. Mint, it now costs 1.5 cents to produce one.

About the only thing of value you can still get for a penny is electricity. Let’s say the average rate for a kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity is 10 cents. Put another way, 60 minutes of 1,000 watts of electricity would cost a dime, and a penny of electricity would equal 100 watts. That is enough to power a 9-watt LED lightbulb, the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb, for 11 hours, all for only a penny. Where else can you get that kind of value? 

How many eggs will a penny buy? How much milk, bread, coffee, medicine or gasoline? Gas has come down from several years ago, but there is still no comparison to the value of electricity. For example, if a gallon of gas costs $2.50, and your car gets 25 miles to the gallon, you can drive 176 yards, about two blocks, on a penny’s worth of gas.

And what about your smartphone? Using the same 10 cents per kWh price, you can fully charge your iPhone more than 18 times for a penny. That means you can charge it once every day of the year for about 20 cents total.

More power to you

We are fortunate electricity is such an excellent value because we have a huge appetite for it. Electricity is not expensive. It’s that we use it for so many different things: lighting, heating, cooking, cooling, refrigeration, cleaning, washing, working, entertainment, communications and even transportation these days.

Despite energy efficiency advancements, the average household uses more electronic gadgets, and needs more power to operate them every year. In fact, in 2015, the most recent year data is available, Americans spent nearly $400 billion on electricity.

Clearly, our appetite for electricity shows no signs of slowing down. So, the next time you flip a switch, turn on your television, or run your washing machine, remember the value electricity holds. And know that employees at your local electric cooperative are looking out for you by working together to keep electric bills affordable, controlling costs through innovation, and putting you, our members, first.

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