The National Academies

The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Energy

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.

Home & Work

Home & Work

Residential and commercial use accounted for 41% of the energy consumed in the United States in 2014.

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

More about home & work



28% of all all energy consumed in the United States goes into moving people and cargo.

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

More about transportation



Industry accounted for 32% of the energy consumed in the United States in 2014.

Industry is vital to our economy—and it requires a growing share of our 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 Hands-on

The Promise of Better Lighting

Energy savings through lighting technology

Energy Defined

Photovoltaic (PV) Cell

Sometimes referred to as a solar cell, a device that utilizes the photoelectric effect to convert incident sunlight directly into electricity. This can be distinguished from solar thermal energy, which is sometimes used to create electricity indirectly.

View our full glossary

National Academies

Search the National Academies Press website by selecting one of these related terms.