Fast Company

Infographic: America's Energy Prices Vs. The World

Think your electricity bill is high? It's not. Neither is your heating bill or the price you pay at the pump. In the grand scheme of things, in fact, you're getting a great deal.

Gas costs too much. So does heating oil. And electricity. Americans love to complain about the cost of our energy. On the campaign trail, politicians love to offer policies that will lower it. But, as we've heard time and time again, our energy prices are actually blissfully low when compared to the rest of the world. Would it be nice if gas were cheaper? Certainly. But try telling a fellow in Europe what you pay to fill up and he'd probably offer you a hearty congratulations (before laughing at you about your gas mileage).

This infographic from WellHome combines many of the stats about global energy costs into one helpful package. For instance, unless you're one of the few people who scrutinize your electric bill every month, you probably have no idea what you're paying per kilowatt hour, just a general sense of what your bill is at the end of every month. Well, the average American is getting off easy compared countries like Italy or Denmark, where residents pay two and three times more, respectively, for their units of power:


And it's not just electricity. In terms of natural gas and heating oil, we're also getting a great deal:

To add to our general confusion about energy, our sense of the inexorable increase of energy prices is also wrong. They've been basically steady (relative to inflation) for the past 50 years. With the exception of gas prices, which are currently skyrocketing for the second time since 1960, most energy prices are basically constants:

And why is that? It certainly has something to do with the massive subsidies we offer energy companies, or at least the energy companies that don't make renewable energy:

Is knowing how well-off we are compared to the rest of the world going to quiet the incessant drumbeat about high energy prices? Certainly not. That would be un-American. Check out the whole infographic below or see it here.

 

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11 Comments

  • Norm

    Wanting lower costs, or any improvements to quality of life, is not un-American. Suggesting people should accept things as they are because others may be worse off and that their desire for improvement is un-American is ridiculous. I suppose the founders of this country would be considered un-American these days given the passion they showed to make things better. I wonder, are perspectives like yours bought and paid for by business and government, the "in" thing to say since so many are doing it (good job sheep), or the product of being too lazy (or maybe too self-centered) to care? Could it really be possible you believe this drivel? What a sad statement that would be for the USA - to be so brainwashed that the desire for things to be better is believed to be un-American.

  • Ross P

    I think the point is not that we shouldn't be complaining but that we should be more aware of what the reality is. Especially when you consider how much tax dollars go into subsidizing unclean energy. Eventually there will have to be a choice (hopefully anyway) between keeping our prices artificially low or decreasing subsidies for unclean power. Or shifting those subsidies to clean energy.

  • Gman

    Oil and Coal are not subsidized, they get the same tax exemptions as any other company gets. Subsidies for Oil are a fallacy.

  • chris chaney

    I have always understood the reason for cheap energy here in the us is because of price of crude oil being quoted in American dollars which give us an advantage of not having to optimize our GDP like other countries do so when they go to financial markets to exchange their currency for dollars (to buy crude oil) they will be competitive.  It has help feed that shift in the American economy from a mfg. driven economy to a more consumer driven economy and GDP has suffered.  Isn't OPEC and others considering shifting away from the dollar soon?....this could get ugly then.
    thanks, chris
    www.chrischaney.biz

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  • Gman

    Just comparing costs of energy between countries is unimportant, People in Iran pay about $2.55 a gallon gas, and they complain about it, why because of all the other costs they have to pay just like the people in the U.S, it isn't about how much in general but how much more someone has to pay for something that is necessary when your out of a job and looking for one, or your a retiree who lives on a fixed income.

  • David Kaiser, PhD

    So, personally, I would like to see major taxes on energy use, especially fossil fuel, or maybe just removing the subsidies and tax breaks. I'm thinking gasoline in the $8 - 10 range, and similar increases in oil and electricity, in order to incentivize more fuel efficient cars and public transportation and investment in high efficiency appliances. This would need to be phased in over a period of years so that it woldn't cause too much pain. To offset this, and so we don't put too much of the pain on low-income Americans, we could cut payroll taxes.

    As economists like to say, if we tax something, we get less of it, so we reduce the tax on wages (payroll tax), driving wages up, and we increase the tax on energy, in order to encourage conservation. Win-win, if we have the guts to do it.

    David Kaiser
    Executive Coach and CEO
    www.DarkMatterConsulting.com

  • Mark Charters

    I like your way of thinking, David. 99.9% of Americans probably think you're insane apart from the less payroll tax thing. I get the impression than taxation is viewed as satanic in some quarters there, but as the saying goes, no representation without taxation. Good luck in the implementation of your plan. If I were American, I'd vote for you!