Calculator: How Much Does Using Coal Really Cost?

| Mon Apr. 2, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

Each month, Americans households spend an average $111 on electricity—chump change considering we need it to do just about everything from watching television to charging our laptops to just getting around in the dark. Much of our electricity comes from coal, a relatively plentiful and accessible energy resource in the United States, but coal's abundance masks a dirty truth: Burning coal fills the air with toxic pollutants, with scary and sometimes fatal health consequences, particularly for people living near the power plants that fuel your home. What would happen to your monthly bill if utilities actually paid for these hidden costs? Use our calculator to find out.

Figures rounded to the nearest dollar. Sources: Clean Air Task Force; Energy Information Administration (PDF); EPA; Paul R. Epstein, Harvard Medical School. Additional reporting by Alyssa Battistoni and Hamed Aleaziz.

Front page image: Wikimedia Commons

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