Home > Households, Buildings & Industry > Transportation Energy Consumption
Transportation Energy Consumption Surveys energy used by vehicles

EIA conducts numerous energy-related surveys and other information programs. In general, the surveys can be divided into two broad groups: supply surveys, directed to the suppliers and marketers of specific energy sources, that measure the quantities of specific fuels produced for and/or supplied to the market; and consumption surveys, which gather information on the types of energy used by consumer groups along with the consumer characteristics that are associated with energy use.

In the transportation sector, EIAs core consumption survey was the Residential Transportation Energy Consumption Survey. RTECS belongs to the consumption group because it collects information directly from the consumer, the household. For roughly a decade, EIA fielded the RTECS--data were first collected in 1983. This survey, fielded for the last time in 1994, was a triennial survey of energy use and expenditures, vehicle miles-traveled (VMT), and vehicle characteristics for household vehicles. For the 1994 survey, a national sample of more than 3,000 households that own or use some 5,500 vehicles provided data.

With the discontinuation of the RTECS after 1994, EIA no longer had a survey of energy consumption for any part of the transportation sector. To fill the gap in household vehicle energy data, EIA partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation to fill this gap in energy-related transportation statistics, using the latest National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), conducted in 2001/2002. The National Household Travel Survey [formerly known as the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) and the American Travel Survey (ATS)] are household-based travel surveys conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT). Survey data are collected from a sample of U.S. households and expanded to provide national estimates of trips and miles by travel mode, purpose, and a host of other characteristics. The survey collects information on daily, local trips and on long-distance travel in the United States. Because the survey included direct collection of odometer-based vehicle miles traveled, EIA was able to derive energy consumption and expenditures information for the vehicles in the sample households. In that way, EIA was able to create a data set essentially comparable to the data available from RTECS.

EIA has also been involved with other consumer-based data initiatives for transportation. During the first half of the 1990s, in response to requirements in the Energy Policy Act of 1992 to investigate the potential markets for alternative-fuel vehicles, EIA conducted surveys of electric utility, natural gas supplier, and propane provider vehicle fleets; surveys of commercial fleets in the cities of Atlanta and Denver; a survey of private consumer preferences for alternative-fuel vehicles, and an internal assessment of the composition of the nonresidential highway vehicle fleet. In addition, EIA has developed a calculator of regional driving costs based on up-to-date fuel prices and user-supplied vehicle miles per gallon and miles traveled.

EIA is currently investigating the possibility of producing commercial highway vehicle energy consumption and expenditures estimates based on the 2002 Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey, sponsored by the Department of Transportation and conducted by the Census Bureau.


Mark Schipper
Program Manager
Phone: (202) 586-1136
Fax: (202) 586-0018

Derrick Pinckney
Survey Statistician
Phone: (202) 586-5744
Fax: (202) 586-0018

Get e-mail updates on Residential Transportation Energy Use

Data Tables 2001 1994 1991
Historical Data Tables
Public Use Microdata 2001 1994 1991

Methodology 2001 1994 1991


Historical Publications
Latest Data & Trends Nov 2005
Household Vehicles 1994 Aug 1997
Household Vehicles 1991 Dec 1993

Alternative Fuel
Fleets of Alternative-Fuel Providers 1993
Consumer Vehicle Preferences 1994
Atlanta Clean-City Fleet Survey 1994
Denver Clean-City Fleets Survey 1995

Special Topics
Method for Estimating Fuel Economy Dec 1993
Total U.S. Vehicle Stock Jun 1991
Odometer Versus Self-Reported Estimates Aug 2000

Related Links
Federal and State Transportation Related Links
Alternative Fueled Vehicles and Fleets
Fuel Economy Guide
Transportation Energy Data Book
Energy Savings