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?

How much carbon dioxide is emitted by the average U.S. car driving one mile?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The average U.S. car gets 21.4 mpg. About 19 pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted for every gallon burned, or 0.9 lb/mile.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The average U.S. car gets 21.4 mpg. About 19 pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted for every gallon burned, or 0.9 lb/mile.

  • Correct!

    The average U.S. car gets 21.4 mpg. About 19 pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted for every gallon burned, or 0.9 lb/mile.

Energy Defined

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE)

Federal standards that stipulate a target average fuel economy rating (typically expressed in miles per gallon, or mpg) to be met by passenger vehicles by a certain date. The most recent version of the CAFE law, pending passage by Congress, requires new cars, SUVs, and light trucks to average 35.5 mpg by 2016.

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National Academies Press

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