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Americans use many types of energy

Petroleum (oil) is the largest share of U.S. primary energy consumption, followed by natural gas, coal, renewable energy (including hydropower, wood, biofuels, biomass waste, wind, geothermal, and solar), and nuclear electric power. Electricity is a secondary energy source that is generated from primary forms of energy.

Energy sources are commonly measured in different physical units to include barrels of oil, cubic feet of natural gas, tons of coal, and kilowatthours of electricity. In the United States, British thermal units (Btu), a measure of heat energy, is commonly used for comparing different types of energy. In 2014, total U.S. primary energy use was about 98.3 quadrillion (1015, or one thousand trillion) Btu.

The major energy users are residential and commercial buildings, industry, transportation, and electric power generators. The pattern of fuel use varies widely by sector. For example, petroleum oil provides 92% of the energy used for transportation, but only 1% of the energy used to generate electricity.

Domestic energy production meets about 89% of U.S. energy demand

In 2014, energy produced in the United States provided about 89% of the nation's energy needs. The remaining energy was supplied mainly by imports of petroleum.

The three major fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—accounted for most of the nation's energy production in 2014:

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. There are several recent changes in U.S. energy production:

  • The share of coal produced from surface mines increased significantly from 25% in 1949, to 51% in 1971, to 65% in 2013. The remaining share of coal was produced from underground mines.

  • In 2014, natural gas production was higher than in any previous year. In recent years, more efficient and cost-effective drilling and production techniques have resulted in increased production of natural gas from shale formations.

  • Total U.S. crude oil production generally decreased each year from a peak in 1970, but the trend reversed in 2010. In 2014, crude oil production was the highest since 1986. These increases were the result of increased use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques, most notably in North Dakota and Texas.

  • Natural gas plant liquids (NGPL) are hydrocarbons that are separated as liquids from natural gas at processing plants. They are important ingredients for manufacturing plastics and gasoline. Propane is the only NGPL that is widely used for heating and cooking. Production of NGPL fluctuates with natural gas production, but the NGPL share of total U.S. crude oil and petroleum field production increased from 8% in 1950 to 26% in 2014.

  • In 2014, total renewable energy production and consumption reached record highs of nearly 10 quadrillion Btu each. Hydroelectric power production in 2014 was about 6% below the 50-year average, but increases in production from all other renewable sources increased the overall total contribution of renewable energy. Production of energy from wind and solar were at record highs in 2014.

Last updated: March 26, 2015

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