TIL: Energy use per transaction for cryptocurrencies vs Visa

For my own calibration, approximate current energy use for a single transaction in various cryptocurrencies, compared with using Visa:

Currency  Symbol  Energy use
per txn(Wh) 
Bitcoin BTC 1,000,000  Hot tub, 150 hours
Ethereum ETH 62,000  Nissan Leaf, 1.5 charges
Litecoin LTC 19,000  Clothes washer, 8 loads
Chia XCH 2,000  Dishwasher, 1 hour
Cardano ADA 500  Computer & monitor, 1 hour
Dogecoin DOGE 120  Humidifier, 1 hour
Ripple XRP 79  Amazon echo telling 2 jokes
Visa One Visa card purchase


  • I got most crypto energy use from this roundup.
  • For Visa, I used the figures from this breakdown.
  • For Bitcoin, I took a rounded figure roughly between those quoted on the above two sources (710kWh and 1,123kWh). A single figure precision is probably most appropriate anyhow.
  • For Chia, I did my own hacky calculation. Chia Power estimates 6MW in total is used by the Chia network, at current size of 4EiB. Meanwhile, Chia Explorer shows a hard-to-read graph which I'm eyeballing to get a rough average of 3,000 transactions per hour. 6 Megawatts divided by 3k per hour gives an energy use per transaction of 2kW.
  • For equivalent household energy uses, I used this and this.

Something's not quite right here though. The Chia whitepaper estimates 10,000 times better energy efficiency than Bitcoin, by my figures above only show 1,000.

They probably know how to calculate this better than I do. So perhaps my figure for Chia is high? I understand the value per transaction will come down as Chia starts handling more transactions, which seems reasonable. Perhaps the white paper refers to that future hypothetical efficiency?

On the other hand, many of the other cryptocurrencies listed above will become more efficient in the future too (e.g. Bitcoin is in the process of deploying its lightning network, which will reduce per transaction energy use.) So I think it's fair to leave the above figures as they are, as a snapshot of current reality.


Comments powered by Disqus