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Natural gas explained Use of natural gas

The United States used about 30 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas in 2018, the equivalent of 31 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) and 31% of total U.S. primary energy consumption.

  • Natural gas use by U.S. consuming sectors by amount and share of total U.S. natural gas consumption in 2018
  • electric power10.63 Tcf35%
  • industrial10.04 Tcf34%
  • residential4.97 Tcf17%
  • commercial3.48 Tcf12%
  • transportation0.84 Tcf3%

Note: sum of shares does not equal 100% because of independent rounding.

How natural gas is used in the United States

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Most U.S. natural gas use is for heating and generating electricity, but some consuming sectors have other uses for natural gas.

The electric power sector uses natural gas to generate electricity. In 2018, the electric power sector accounted for about 35% of total U.S. natural gas consumption, and natural gas was the source of about 29% of the U.S. electric power sector's primary energy consumption. Most of the electricity produced by the electric power sector is sold to and used by the other U.S. consuming sectors, and that electricity use is included in each sector’s total energy consumption. The other consuming sectors also use natural gas to generate electricity, and they use nearly all of this electricity themselves.

The industrial sector uses natural gas as a fuel for process heating, in combined heat and power systems, and as a raw material (feedstock) to produce chemicals, fertilizer, and hydrogen. In 2018, the industrial sector accounted for about 34% of total U.S. natural gas consumption, and natural gas was the source of about 32% of the U.S. industrial sector's total energy consumption.

The residential sector uses natural gas to heat buildings and water, to cook, and to dry clothes. About half of the homes in the United States use natural gas for these purposes. In 2018, the residential sector accounted for about 17% of total U.S. natural gas consumption, and natural gas was the source of about 24% of the U.S. residential sector's total energy consumption.

The commercial sector uses natural gas to heat buildings and water, to operate refrigeration and cooling equipment, to cook, to dry clothes, and to provide outdoor lighting. Some consumers in the commercial sector also use natural gas as a fuel in combined heat and power systems. In 2018, the commercial sector accounted for about 12% of total U.S. natural gas consumption, and natural gas was the source of about 19% of the U.S. commercial sector's total energy consumption.

The transportation sector uses natural gas as a fuel to operate compressors that move natural gas through pipelines and as a vehicle fuel in the form of compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas. Nearly all vehicles that use natural gas as a fuel are in government and private vehicle fleets. In 2018, the transportation sector accounted for about 3% of total U.S. natural gas consumption. Natural gas was the source of about 3% of the U.S. transportation sector's total energy consumption in 2018, of which 95% was for natural gas pipeline and distribution operations.

Where natural gas is used

Natural gas is used throughout the United States, but five states accounted for about 38% of total U.S. natural gas consumption in 2017.

  • The five largest natural gas consuming states and their share of total U.S. natural gas consumption in 2017 were
  • Texas14.3%
  • California7.8%
  • Louisiana5.9%
  • Florida5.1%
  • Pennsylvania4.7%

Last updated: July 10, 2019