Thanksgiving is a powerful holiday. Really. The electricity used to cook on Thanksgiving is enough to power an LED bulb for 1,400 hours; light eight hours a day for half a year.

Thanksgiving cooking power breaks down like this based on 60% of US households using an electric oven to cook (source):

  • Turkey (8 kWh) – enough to play video games for 55 hours
  • Stuffing (2 kWh) – enough to run a ceiling fan for 25 hours
  • Mashed potatoes (1 kWh) – enough to use a DVD player for 35 hours
  • Green bean casserole (1 kWh) – enough to watch TV for 65 hours
  • Pumpkin pie (2 kWh) – enough to power a laptop for 40 hours

Roasting a turkey in an electric oven is the most common cooking method. An average sized 15-pound turkey takes about 15 minutes per pound – 3:45 hours at 350º F. With a standard electric oven, you can expect that it will use at least 2500 watts per hour (which is 2.5 kW.) Now we can do the math on what that will cost. (source)

The formulae:

  • Energy used: 2.5 kw x  3.75 hours = 9.375 kilowatt hours (kWh)
  • Cost: 9.375 kWh x (cents per kWh) = $ to cook the turkey


City kWh Cents per kWh* Total (rounded)
Boone, NC 9.375 10.43 $0.98
Cary, NC 9.375 10.22 $0.96
Columbia, SC 9.375 13.64 $1.28
Goose Creek 9.375 12.01 $1.12
Oak Island, NC 9.375 11.69 $1.09
Rock Hill, SC 9.375 12.9 $1.21
Wilson, NC 9.375 12.33 $1.16

*Energy only, no monthly service fees or other riders. Residential rates.

One way to save energy when cooking the turkey – stop bird watching. That aroma of cooking turkey makes people just want to peek at how it is doing. When you open the oven a significant amount of heat is gone. The oven has to use energy to reheat.

Leftovers take energy, too. Microwaves are in the spotlight, with 96% of households microwave-equipped (2015 figure). On average, households with a microwave spent $17 per year on electricity to operate them.

Aside from cooking is storing Thanksgiving food – before and after the meal. “Nearly all homes (99%) have a refrigerator, and nearly 30% of homes have two or more. The most-used refrigerator in a home costs $81 per year to operate on average, while the second refrigerator has an average annual operating cost of $61. Second refrigerators are often smaller than the home’s most-used refrigerator. In 2015, 32% of households reported having a separate freezer. These appliances cost $69 per year to operate on average.”  (source)

This is a holiday of being thankful, and having a reliable and affordable energy system is something we can enjoy.