Does Bitcoin Actually Consume Less Power Than Christmas Lights?

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  • Christmas lights consume a crazy amount of power globally each year
  • Bitcoin is touted to consume less power than Christmas lights, but is it true?
  • The math hints that it’s likely true that Christmas lights consume more power globally each year

As we get closer and closer to Christmas, the old line of “Christmas lights consume more power than Bitcoin mining does all year” gets thrown around more and more. Many of us just accept this as gospel, but is it actually true?

Miners keep most of their data pretty close to their chests, but you can guestimate how much power miners use globally based on the current hash rate divided by the number of mining rigs it would take to produce that amount of hashes, then working out how much power those devices would consume.

So, does Bitcoin actually consume more power than Christmas lights? Let’s find out!

Time for the Math!

This isn’t the most scientific experiment in the world, and it’s more of a kind of guestimate with a bit of math gone into it. So, let’s begin by telling you that America alone consumes 6 terawatt hours (TWh) of power with festive lights alone. That’s actually an awful lot of power, and to put it into perspective, there are 105 countries that consume less power annually.

The current Bitcoin network hash rate is at 133 million terahashes per second (TH/s). The Antminer S9 produces around 14 TH/s and consumes 38.4 kilowatts per hour (kWh). That works out at 9,500,000 Antminer S9 devices needed and a total consumption of 0.3648 TWh.

So Bitcoin is Better Than Christmas Lights?

Unfortunately, our math here is flawed in a VERY big way. There are a lot of variables that have not been taken into account, such as cooling, downtime of rigs, combination of rigs etc. In reality, the actual figure is probably much higher, and a study conducted by Alex de Vries argues that Bitcoin consumes as much power as Ireland does annually.

Due to the fact that not all miners use the latest mining rigs that are incredibly efficient, not all miners use the same cooling systems and not all miners disclose their total power consumption, all we can do is some guesswork here.

But, if you take our word for it and you run 9.5 million Antminer S9 rigs without any cooling, you would consume less power than the whole of the US does on Christmas lights. Even if you take our calculation and multiply it by 10x to factor in some of these other factors, the results still come out on top for Bitcoin mining.

The most important thing to remember here is that Bitcoin mining is a year-round affair, while Christmas lights are on for a month at tops!