What hogs more energy? A desktop computer or a laptop? Central air conditioning or an A/C unit? Take Slate’s energy quiz and find out.
The magazine collaborated with researchers at Columbia’s Earth Institute to come up with questions to test if readers know how much energy their household appliances are guzzling. The quiz was adapted from a study published last year that found Americans tend to overestimate the energy-savings from small behavioral changes—turning off the lights, for instance—and underestimate savings from buying energy-efficient cars and appliances.
Shahzeen Attari, an engineer at EIs Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, found that the largest group in her study, nearly 20 percent, thought that turning off the lights was the best way to save energy, though household lighting is a small part of most energy budgets. Very few cited buying decisions that experts say would cut U.S. energy consumption dramatically, such as higher-mileage cars (cited by only 2.8 percent), more efficient appliances (cited by 3.2 percent) or weatherizing homes (cited by 2.1 percent). Previous researchers have concluded that households could cut energy use some 30 percent by making such high-impact choices.
The Slate quiz is a shorter version of Attari’s study, asking readers to estimate the watts consumed by several common appliances. Readers are also asked to rate what transportation modes and recycling materials consume the most energy. Take the quiz before investing in your next computer, planning your next vacation and choosing between a six-pack that comes in bottles or cans. Answers are provided at the end.