It’s natural for us to take our energy consumption for granted. Turning on the lights, powering our cars, and operating our businesses is usually nothing more than part of our daily routines. But lacking basic knowledge of energy consumption is and will continue to affect our environment – which we can’t take for granted.
You see most of our energy still comes from burning fossil fuels. That dependency has resulted in increased levels of both carbon and methane emissions. If we continue to take things for granted, our excessive energy consumption as well as our dependency on fossil fuels will further the effects of global warming on the world around us.
To help you become aware, we’re going to take both a macro and micro look at U.S. energy consumption. After doing so, you’ll have a general understanding of the current energy consumption landscape – giving you the ability to make changes that will benefit you and the environment.
A macro outlook on U.S. energy consumption.
When looking at U.S. energy consumption as a whole, the industrial sector leads the way, followed by transportation, residential, and commercial, per Statista, The Statistics Portal.
- Industrial: 31.56 percent
- Transportation: 28.20 percent
- Residential: 20.00 percent
- Commercial: 18.07 percent
As you can see from these stats, most of our energy consumption comes from the industrial and transportation sectors – which shouldn’t be a surprise. Think about it, without the industrial sector, our economy would cease to exist. According to Investopedia, “Performance in the industrial goods sector is largely driven by supply and demand for building construction in the residential, commercial and industrial real estate segments, as well as the demand for manufactured products.”
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Thanks to the industrial sector, automobiles became a reality, so it should be no surprise that it’s second on the list. Cars, planes, trains, and any other form of transportation requires either fuel or electricity. Each year the U.S. sees new drivers hitting the road, which means extra cars consuming fuel.
Residential and commercial round off the list. We’re constantly consuming energy throughout our homes with our various appliances, but not all consume equal amounts of kWh (we’ll get into that in just a bit). The commercial sector, which includes all of our businesses minus manufacturing and transportation, accounts for around 18 percent of the total U.S. energy consumption.
As we mentioned earlier, most of the energy consumed by these sectors originates from fossil fuels. Below you’ll find a breakdown of U.S. energy consumption by energy source for 2017, per the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA):
- Petroleum: 37 percent
- Natural Gas: 29 percent
- Coal: 14 percent
- Renewable Energy: 11 percent
- Nuclear Electric Power: 9 percent
Even though renewable energy resources have taken great strides in recent years, fossil fuels still dominate the game. Eighty percent of our energy consumption originates from fossil fuels. Which means we need to continue investing into renewable resources, and better energy habits – which brings us to our micro perspective on energy consumption.
A micro look at how our households consume energy.
You can’t put a price tag on comfort. It’s why cooling and heating are the top two categories for energy consumption in U.S. homes. According to the EIA, in 2017, space cooling accounted for 15 percent of the total share with an average consumption of 212 billion kWh. Water heating came in second with a 10 percent share of the total, and an average consumption of 131 billion kWh.
These two categories alone account for 25 percent of your home’s energy consumption. With 25 percent of your home’s energy coming from two major appliances, don’t you think you should check on their efficiency ratings? Upgrading your appliances can reduce your energy consumption while at the same time increasing your savings. For more information check out our blog, “How to choose the right energy efficient home appliances.”
Another important category to be aware of is lighting. In 2017, lighting accounted for 9 percent of the total share, with an average consumption of 129 billion kWh. The various lights we use throughout our home emit heat and directly contribute to global warming – unless they’re LEDs.
Other appliances such as refrigerators, washers and dryers account for smaller percentages, but should not be taken for granted. Their inefficiencies will add up in the long run.
You can see now why it’s important to understand where our energy goes. Knowing the appliances with the biggest impacts on your energy consumption, gives you the ability to make necessary changes. If all of us take it upon ourselves to better our energy consumption habits, we’ll one day see a macro shift that will benefit us and our environment in the long run.