The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Energy

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Energy

How We Use Energy

We divide our energy use among four economic sectors: residential, commercial, transportation, and industrial. Heating and cooling our homes, lighting office buildings, driving cars and moving freight, and manufacturing the products we rely on in our daily lives are all functions that require energy. If projections are correct, we’re going to keep needing more. In the United States alone, energy consumption is expected to rise 13% over the next two decades. Global consumption is expected to increase by 44% over the same time period.

Percentage of energy consumed by each economic sector in the United States in 2008.

Home & Work

Residential and commercial use accounted for 41% of the energy consumed in the United States in 2008.

Where does the energy consumed in homes and commercial buildings come from? And what is it used for? Discover how energy is used to power our lives where we live and where we work.

More about home & work

Transportation

71% of all petroleum used in the United States goes to the transportation sector.

With less than one twentieth of the world’s population, the United States is home to one-third of the world’s automobiles. Learn about the impacts of our dependency on vehicles and the fuel we use to run them.

More about transportation

Industry

Industry accounted for 31% of the energy consumed in the United States in 2008.

Industry is vital to our economy—and it requires a lot of energy. Find out which industries draw the most from our energy supply and what sources they rely on to power their processes.

More about industry

Explore Other Topics

Energy Videos

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America's Energy Future

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Energy Hands-on

What do you know about energy?

Which of the following is emitted by coal-fired power plants?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are emitted from coal-fired power plants and can be harmful to our health and the environment.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are emitted from coal-fired power plants and can be harmful to our health and the environment.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are emitted from coal-fired power plants and can be harmful to our health and the environment.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are emitted from coal-fired power plants and can be harmful to our health and the environment.

  • Correct!

    All of the above are emitted from coal-fired power plants and can be harmful to our health and the environment.

Energy Defined

Fossil Fuels

Fuels formed in the Earth’s crust over millions of years from decomposed organic matter. The most widely known fossil fuels are petroleum (oil), coal, and natural gas.

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National Academies Press

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