Does the Super Bowl Actually Help the Environment?
Almost everyone loves the Super Bowl, whether they’re rooting for one of the teams or just watching for the commercials. But who knew there was a deeper, greener upside to the big game? According to recent research by energy consulting firm Opower, football fans actually do less damage to the environment when they watch the Super Bowl.
When Opower looked at energy consumption from 145,000 households on Super Bowl Sunday 2012, it found that people used 7.7% less electricity than on more mundane football Sundays. How is this possible with everyone playing the game on big screen TVs? The causes behind the drop in energy use are hard to pin down, but researchers have some reasonable theories why. One rationale is that the energy used by big screen TVs is offset by inactivity elsewhere during the game, like running the washer and dryer machines. Another idea is that people tend to watch with others, creating a carpool effect on TV use.
Opower estimates that energy savings due to this drop in electricity consumption may have been as high as $3.1 million. While this seems great for the environment, it’s important to note that just because less electricity was consumed doesn’t mean less energy was used – the energy might have been consumed in other forms or at later times. For example, people might have run the dishwasher longer because they had a lot of dishes to wash from Super Bowl parties, or they might have used more cleaning supplies than usual to clean up party messes.
While the study has its limits, it still goes to show that not only does being social have more than its obvious benefits for the environment, but for the Super Bowl too.