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Apple's iPad Won't Blow Up Your Electricity Bill

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The change you find stuck between the cushions of your sofa could be more than enough to charge your iPad (AAPL) for a year.

According to, the annual cost to power the popular tablet is a mere $1.36, less than what it costs to power a 60-watt compact fluorescent bulb.

The non-profit research and development group Electric Power Research Institute, or EPRI, conducted the study to determine how much of an effect the newly-popular devices might have on the nation's electricity use. The results show it’s not much at all.

Even if the number of iPads were to triple from the current number of 67 million, they would only need the electricity from one small power plant operating at full strength to do the job.

Baskar Vairmohan, the researcher who conducted the iPad test, said EPRI is now studying usage to understand whether the explosion of tablets is adding to power consumption, or reducing it.

With the number of tablets sure to increase -- Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) are both releasing tablets of their own to compete with the iPad later this year-- the shift could mean lower overall power consumption. A desktop computer uses 20 times more power than an iPad.

According to the government, the demand for residential power is on track to decrease for the third straight year. Programs pushing for more efficient light bulbs, air conditioners, and other appliances have been successful. Even refrigerators use a quarter of the power they used a generation ago, according to the EPRI.

If $1.36 for the iPad is still a bit steep, there is a way to save even more money -- by using your iPhone. EPRI calculated the annual cost to power up the iPhone 4 for a year is only 38 cents.
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