Help promote Energy Explained with the outreach toolkit

Americans use many types of energy

Petroleum, natural gas, coal, renewable energy, and nuclear electric power are primary sources of energy. Electricity is a secondary energy source that is generated from primary sources of energy.

Energy sources are measured in different physical units: liquid fuels in barrels or gallons, natural gas in cubic feet, coal in short tons, and electricity in kilowatts and kilowatthours. In the United States, British thermal units (Btu), a measure of heat energy, is commonly used for comparing different types of energy to each other. In 2015, total U.S. primary energy consumption was about 97.7 quadrillion (1015, or one thousand trillion) Btu.

In 2015, the shares of total primary energy consumption of the five energy-consuming sectors were:

  • Electric power—39%
  • Transportation—28%
  • Industrial—22%
  • Residential—7%
  • Commercial—4%
  • The electric power sector generates most of the electricity in the United States, and the other four sectors consume most of the electricity it generates.

    The pattern of fuel use varies widely by sector. For example, petroleum provides about 92% of the energy used for transportation, but only 1% of the energy used to generate electricity.

    Domestic energy production is equal to about 91% of U.S. energy consumption

    In 2015, energy produced in the United States was equal to about 89 quadrillion Btu or about 91% of U.S. energy consumption. The difference between production and consumption was mainly in net imports of petroleum.

    The three major fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—accounted for most of the nation's energy production in 2015:

    The mix of U.S. energy production changes

    The three major fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—have dominated the U.S. energy mix for more than 100 years. Several recent changes in U.S. energy production have occured:

    • Coal production peaked in 2008 and trended down through 2015. Coal production in 2015 was about the same as production was in 1981. The primary reason for the general decline in coal production was the decrease in coal consumption for electricity generation.
    • Natural gas production was higher in 2015 than in any previous year. More efficient and cost-effective drilling and production techniques have resulted in increased production of natural gas from shale formations over the past ten years.
    • Crude oil production generally decreased each year between 1970 and 2008. In 2009, the trend reversed and production began to rise. More cost-effective drilling and production technologies helped to boost production, especially in Texas and North Dakota. In 2015, crude oil production was at nearly the same level as in 1972.
    • Natural gas plant liquids (NGPL) are hydrocarbon gas liquids that are extracted from natural gas before the natural gas is put into pipelines for transmission to consumers. NGPL production has increased along with increases in natural gas production. In 2015, NGPL production was about two times greater than it was in 2005.
    • Total renewable energy production and consumption both reached record highs of about 9.7 quadrillion Btu in 2015. Hydroelectric power production in 2015 was about 18% below the 50-year average, but increases in energy production from wind and solar helped to increase the overall energy production from renewable sources. Energy production from wind and solar were at record highs in 2015.

Last updated: June 3, 2016

Imports fill the gap between U.S. energy use and U.S. energy production

The United States is one of the largest energy importers in the world. The United States was energy self-sufficient until the late 1950s when energy consumption began to outpace domestic production. In the late 1950s, the United States began importing more energy to fill the gap between consumption and domestic production. Net energy imports (imports minus exports) peaked in 2005. Since 2005, imports have declined while exports have increased. In 2014, net imported energy accounted for 11% of all energy consumed in the United States.

Net imports or exports reflect the difference between the total amount imported and the total amount exported. The United States is typically a net importer of crude oil and a net exporter of coal.

Crude oil is the largest source of fuel imported by the United States

Most of the nation's energy imports are in the form of crude oil. From 1949 to 2011, the United States was a net importer of refined petroleum products. In 2011, the United States became a net exporter of petroleum products.

Last updated: July 10, 2015

U.S. total energy statistics

Data for 2014 (preliminary) except where noted1

Total primary energy production 87.0 quadrillion Btu
  • Natural gas
  • Coal
  • Oil (includes crude oil and natural gas plant liquids)
  • Renewable
  • Nuclear
  • 30%
  • 23%
  • 26%
  • 11%
  • 10%
Total energy consumption 98.3 quadrillion Btu
    By fuel/energy source
  • Petroleum
  • Natural gas
  • Coal
  • Renewable
  • Nuclear

  • By end-use sector
  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Industrial
  • Transportation

  • 35%
  • 28%
  • 18%
  • 10%
  •   8%


  • 22%
  • 19%
  • 32%
  • 28%
Carbon dioxide emissions from 5,404 million metric tons of carbon dioxide
  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Transportation
  • Industrial
  • 21%
  • 18%
  • 34%
  • 27%
Energy consumption/GDPratio
  • 2014
  • 1980
  • 6.12 thousand Btu per 2009 dollar
  • 12.12 thousand Btu per 2009 dollar
Number of households (2009) 113.6 million

Heated by: (2009)

  • Natural gas
  • Electricity
  • Oil
  • Propane
  • Wood
  • Other
  • Do not have or use heating

 

  • 49%
  • 34%
  • 6%
  • 5%
  • 2%
  • 1%
  • 3%

1Source: Monthly Energy Review, March 2015

More statistics for each energy source

World energy statistics

World energy consumption by energy source, 2012
524 quadrillion Btu
  • Petroleum1
  • Coal
  • Natural gas
  • Renewables2
  • Nuclear
  • 34%
  • 28%
  • 24%
  •  9%
  •  5%
1Includes liquids from crude oil, coal, and natural gas.
2Includes biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind.
World energy consumption, 2012
524 quadrillion Btu

Top five countries and share of total

  • China
  • United States
  • Russia
  • India
  • Japan

 

  • 20%
  • 18%
  •   6%
  •   5%
  •   4%
Per capita consumption of selected countries, 2011
  • United States
  • Russia
  • Japan
  • China
  • India
  • 313 million Btu
  • 209 million Btu
  • 164 million Btu
  •   78 million Btu
  •   20 million Btu
Carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption, 2012 32,310 million metric tons

Top five emitters of carbon dioxide from energy consumption and share of total

  • China
  • United States
  • India
  • Russia
  • Japan

 


  • 25%
  • 16%
  •   6%
  •   6%
  •   4%



Last updated: December 15, 2015