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Today in Energy

March 14, 2023

U.S. natural gas consumption set nine monthly records and an annual record in 2022

U.S. natural gas conusmption averages
Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Natural Gas Monthly

In 2022, U.S. natural gas consumption averaged a record 88.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d)—the highest annual natural gas consumption, according to records beginning in 1949. U.S. natural gas consumption last year increased 5% (4.5 Bcf/d) from 2021, the second-fastest year-over-year growth since 2013. Natural gas consumption in the United States set monthly records in 9 of 12 months in 2022, based on our Natural Gas Monthly.

U.S> natural gas consumption ranges
Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Natural Gas Monthly

Natural gas consumption peaks twice a year in the United States, driven by the residential and commercial sectors during the winter and electric power sector during the summer. In winter, the most natural gas is consumed in January or February when demand for space heating peaks. In summer, the most natural gas is consumed typically in July or August to meet air-conditioning demand.

Newly retired coal-fired generating plants, relatively high coal prices, and lower-than-average coal stocks limited the electric power sector's coal consumption last year, which led to increased natural gas consumption for electricity generation. Compared with 2021, natural gas consumption increased in all sectors, but the electric power sector consumed more natural gas than any other U.S. end-use sector, accounting for 38% of U.S. natural gas consumption.

U.S. natural gas consumption by sector
Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Natural Gas Monthly
Note: other=natural gas volumes consumed as transportation fuel

Natural gas consumption peaked in January and in July in 2022. In January 2022, the residential and commercial sectors, combined, consumed 9% more natural gas than in January 2021, and the electric power sector consumed 10% more year over year. Natural gas consumed for electric power reached a new record in January 2022, pushing overall natural gas consumption to a monthly record high.

Summer 2022 was the third-warmest on record in the U.S. Lower 48 states, leading to strong demand for air conditioning and resulting in new daily records for electricity generation in July. As a result, more natural gas was consumed in the electric power sector, pushing consumption in July to be the highest for the summer.

The year ended with another monthly record for natural gas consumption. In December, in much of the Lower 48 states, below-normal temperatures in the mid to late part of the month led to increased natural gas demand, both directly and indirectly, from natural gas-fired plants to generate electricity for space heating.

Principal contributors: Katy Fleury, Kristen Tsai