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

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Energy Videos

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America's Energy Future

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Energy Hands-on

What do you know about energy?

True or False: Burning biofuels does not release carbon dioxide.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Biofuels contain carbon and although they may burn “cleaner” than oil-derived fuels, they do not avoid generating carbon dioxide emissions.

  • Correct!

    Biofuels contain carbon and although they may burn “cleaner” than oil-derived fuels, they do not avoid generating carbon dioxide emissions.

Energy Defined

Intermittent Energy Source

An energy source characterized by output that is dependent on the natural variability of the source rather than the requirements of consumers. Solar energy is an example of an intermittent energy source since it is only available when the sun is shining. Wind is also an intermittent energy source.

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National Academies Press

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