From Scott Carlberg

Thanksgiving can be an intense time. Lots of family. Pressure to put just the right meal on the table. And then, the energy intensity to cook the meal.

How much energy does it take to prepare a Thanksgiving meal? Lots of electric power, for one, because about 60% of Americans use an electric oven to cook their turkeys.

Here’s the breakdown of energy for an average Thanksgiving meal.

  • Turkey: 8 kWh. (16-pound bird at 350 degrees. Two kW in the oven for four hours)
  • Stuffing: 2 kWh
  • Mashed potatoes: 1 kWh
  • Green bean casserole: 1 kWh
  • Pumpkin pie: 2 kWh

In total, with the electricity used to cook this feast, you could power an LED bulb for 1,400 hours – long enough to provide light eight hours a day for half a year. (Source)

So, with roughly 45 million meals being cooked, Americans will use 227 million kWh roasting Thanksgiving turkeys. “227 million kWh is approximately an hour’s worth of energy from 113,500 wind turbines, or an hour’s output from 186 big nuclear units. It’s also the approximate power of 454,000 sports cars.” (Source)

Want to save some energy while you are cooking? Stop peaking in the oven while the turkey is cooking! Or, use the microwave instead of an oven when that is appropriate. (Check the microwaves in US homes, left.) (Source)

There’s no universal cost for the energy to cook. “Although electricity has the highest cost of the three fuels, average household cooking expenditures for electricity were the lowest of the three fuels at $31 per year. Average cooking expenditures for natural gas were slightly higher at $34 per year. Electricity was … especially prevalent in the South (take a look at the graph), where 75% of households reported having a cooking appliance that uses electricity. (Source)

Leftovers? One of the best parts of Thanksgiving! “Storing food uses energy as well, and leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner can be stored in a variety of ways. 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.” (Source)

Now let’s figure out how to burn off those calories.