The modern household is highly dependent on energy. Computers, toasters, and cars all require energy to run. So with more than 300 million people living in the United States, how much energy is consumed each year? According to the U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA, www.eia.gov), 95.1 quadrillion Btu (British thermal units) of primary energy was consumed in the United States in 2012. That comes out to 312.8 million Btu per person. Less per person than a Canadian uses, but more than the average German or French person consumes.
Of course not all energy consumption in the United States is by households. In fact, total residential and commercial energy consumption is much smaller than industrial consumption, which is in turn, smaller than total transportation-related consumption. So where does the 95.1 quadrillion Btu the United States requires to operate come from?
A lot of it comes from petroleum. This is because transportation-related consumption is a very large slice of the energy-use pie and we depend on gasoline to fuel our cars. Petroleum provided 36 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States in 2012. Natural gas was the second largest energy source, providing 27 percent. Coal provided 18 percent, rounding out the fossil fuel sources, which in total accounted for more than 81 percent of the energy consumed in the United States.
Renewable energy sources accounted for approximately nine percent of total energy consumption. The largest renewable energy source was hydroelectric power. Currently, wind and solar energy sources comprise less than one-third of total renewable energy. Some companies such as Just Energy Texas have started utilizing this. However, wind and solar technology continues to improve and their contribution to total energy supply is projected to increase steadily in the coming decades. The EIA estimates that by 2040 solar and wind-generated electricity will be on par with hydropower, which is not projected to increase significantly.
Finally, nuclear power supplied approximately eight percent of the total energy consumed in the United States in 2012. However, it still provides nearly 20 percent of electricity consumed. No new nuclear power plants have been built in the United States since 1974 though, suggesting that the fraction of energy supplied by nuclear power will only decline in the future.
The United States was the second largest consumer of energy in the world in 2012, using slightly less than China. As mentioned previously, petroleum was the largest source of energy consumed in the United States. According to the EIA, 40 percent of that petroleum was imported, mostly from Canada and Saudi Arabia, 28 and 13 percent, respectively. In contrast with petroleum, only about six percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States in 2012 was imported.