That coffee you're drinking while gazing at your iPad? It cost more than all the electricity needed to run those games, emails, videos and news stories for a year.

The annual cost to charge an iPad is just $1.36, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit group funded by electric utilities.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

By comparison, a 60-watt compact fluorescent bulb costs $1.61, a desktop PC adds up to $28.21 and a refrigerator runs you $65.72.

EPRI studied the power consumption of Apple Inc.'s iPad to determine the effect that the newly popular devices might have on the nation's electricity use. The answer: not much.

If the number of iPads triples from the current 67 million, they would need the electricity from one small power plant operating at full strength. In fact, if people use iPads instead of televisions to play video games, or ditch their desktop computers for iPads, the shift could mean lower power usage.

EPRI measured the amount of power used to charge an iPad with a drained battery and assumed users would charge up every other day. Over a year the latest version of the iPad consumed 11.86 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which would cost an average of $1.36.

But there's an even cheaper way to go than the iPad. EPRI calculated the cost of power needed to fuel an iPhone 4 for a year: just 38 cents. -- AP