Energy Consumption in the United States

Energy consumption

Energy consumption refers to the total amount of fuel and electricity used within an area or nation. It can be measured using various metrics, including kilowatt-hours and megawatt-hours.

Save energy can lower living expenses, especially electric power. Saving energy also decreases our dependence on complex technologies, transportation systems and trade agreements that may be vulnerable to natural disasters or accidents.

Power generation

Power generation includes energy used to produce electricity in coal-, nuclear-, gas-, and oil-fired facilities, hydroelectric plants, renewable sources such as biomass geothermal solar wind energy production facilities in the US as well as hydroelectricity plants generating 11.6 quadrillion Btu in 2020 – more than half of all the energy consumed nationwide!

Electricity is produced at central power stations that employ various forms of technology; some, like steam boilers, date back more than 100 years while newer technologies like wind turbines are much more recent. But all these systems share one characteristic – they generate electricity by spinning an alternator mechanism in either a circular or linear fashion, depending on the machinery needed and required output of electricity.

Most electricity generation today relies on fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas to generate power; however, as the world transitions towards lower-emission technologies, renewable energy has taken on an ever larger role in electricity production due to technological costs, domestic resource availability and policy objectives such as renewable portfolio standards for local generation.

On a per capita basis, the United States consumes more energy than almost all countries other than China, save for China itself. It is important to remember that this figure accounts for all economic activities within the country such as factories, office buildings and other economic activities that require powering with energy consumption – not only households.

As well as these factors, electricity consumption is also affected by consumer decisions and policies. For example, those who opt for energy efficient appliances and buildings tend to reduce their energy usage; meanwhile policies that reward these choices can encourage new technology development while changing consumer preferences over time.

Energy consumption among households and commercial enterprises is projected to increase by about 15% by 2050, driven by rising prosperity in developing nations as well as expansionary commercial activity. Energy efficiency measures, such as advanced materials and policies such as utility rebates for renewables, should play an integral role in curbing this increase.


Transportation has always been key in shaping civilization. Transportation encompasses moving people and goods between locations using air, rail, road, cable and pipeline systems – as well as tactical relocation of armed forces during warfare as well as civilian mobility construction or emergency equipment.

Transport consumes significant energy resources. The transportation sector can be divided into passenger, freight, container and intermodal transportation modes that vary in terms of mode, route, load capacity and speed; energy usage for each varies based on its mode, route, load capacity and speed; energy use varies greatly by mode as well. Passenger transport includes both public and private modes while freight may include container or bulk cargo options. Renewable energies have made rapid strides toward becoming part of Europe’s transport energy mix (currently approximately 10%); yet EU plans do not target reaching this level by 2020 (EEA 2018).

Energy consumption for transport typically involves measuring the amount of fuel or electricity necessary per mile traveled. With liquid fuel propulsion systems, this figure may be reported in terms of litres or gallons per kilometer while with electricity powered vehicles this would typically be expressed as kilowatt hours per kilometre.

ADEME has designed an online calculator which enables users to compare the environmental performance of various modes of transport in terms of primary energy consumption and CO emissions. Users are able to estimate the energy consumed by vehicles or trailers compared with their weight and volume. These calculations exclude external energy costs associated with producing, transporting and storing fuel; producing, storing and disposing of exhaust waste; as well as manufacturing and maintaining vehicles – so their comparisons don’t apply across modes of transport. Higher transport costs do however motivate increased energy efficiency through engine improvements or electrifying vehicles.


Residential sector energy consumption represents approximately one third of national consumption, mostly in the form of electricity. Most of this energy usage can be attributed to air conditioning use, followed by heating and lighting needs. Energy demand peaks during hot summer afternoons when households use air conditioners at full capacity and then again later when lights come on in the evening – an upward trend likely to persist into the future.

Energy consumption patterns differ between regions due to weather and social customs. For instance, people living at high latitudes require more energy in winter to heat their homes, while residents in rural areas often need to drive more often which increases fuel use and consumption as well as electricity demand in some regions. Unfortunately, most residential energy conservation policies don’t take account of these variations in energy demand when making decisions regarding conservation measures.

Scholars have traditionally studied residential energy consumption trends based on macroeconomic and household composition factors; however, these cannot fully account for intra-household energy differences. Recent research has addressed this by exploring socio-economic factors – such as household size, age of members and income level – as possible causes. For instance, many scholars have discovered that households with fewer members tend to consume more energy; those with higher incomes are also more likely to possess energy-efficient homes.

A reliable way of tracking residential energy consumption over time is the Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI). The index accurately tracks changes in residential electricity use; correlations tend to be stronger during summer months when Americans rely on air conditioning more.

MERCANTITAL AND SERVICE, which encompasses malls, restaurants, and gas stations as examples, represents the highest percentage of commercial energy consumption. Professional offices, banks, and government buildings were second with 14% while education and health care institutions followed with 8 percent respectively.


Commercial energy use includes government facilities and equipment, service-providing businesses and other types of business activity. It consumes nearly one third of America’s total electricity supply and relies heavily on it during operating hours – though demand remains relatively stable throughout the day and year.

Commercial building energy consumption is increasing worldwide as economies expand and more people leave their homes for offices, schools and shopping malls. This increased energy demand can be reduced through policies which promote new technologies while encouraging consumers to choose energy-saving appliances and practices.

Offices are among the biggest commercial energy consumers, but hotels, hospitals, warehouses and retail shops also require significant amounts. There are various opportunities available to these buildings to save energy, such as installing lighting with more efficient ballasts or upgrading to more energy-efficient heating and cooling systems – many upgrades also reduce operating costs and greenhouse emissions significantly.

Other industries also have differing energy demands; some, like mining and oil refineries, tend to consume more at certain times of year than at others. Outdoor pollution also has an effect on these sectors, leading to higher electricity usage in areas with poor air quality.

Industrial energy use accounts for nearly as much primary energy consumption as transportation and residential/commercial sectors combined, depending on various factors such as temperature, availability of natural resources and production costs. To minimize its consumption, industry can take advantage of flexible pricing which charges according to usage; invest in technologies which reduce production processes or energy requirements such as renewable energy or more efficient refrigeration units; work with utilities to manage peak loads more effectively and level load off when demand spikes; as well as working together for smooth operations during these peak times.