The National Academies

The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Energy

What You Need To Know About Energy

What do you know about energy?

On average, which is most efficient in coverting heat into electic power?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    On average, a typical coal-burning power plant in 2013 was about 33% efficient in converting heat energy into electrical power. A gas-fired plant was about 42% efficient. And in natural gas combined-cycle power plants—in which waste heat from a natural gas turbine is used to power a steam turbine—generation may be as much as 60% efficient.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    On average, a typical coal-burning power plant in 2013 was about 33% efficient in converting heat energy into electrical power. A gas-fired plant was about 42% efficient. And in natural gas combined-cycle power plants—in which waste heat from a natural gas turbine is used to power a steam turbine—generation may be as much as 60% efficient.

  • Correct!

    On average, a typical coal-burning power plant in 2013 was about 33% efficient in converting heat energy into electrical power. A gas-fired plant was about 42% efficient. And in natural gas combined-cycle power plants—in which waste heat from a natural gas turbine is used to power a steam turbine—generation may be as much as 60% efficient.

Which has been growing more, energy used by lighting and appliances or energy used for heating and cooling?

  • Correct!

    For decades, more than half of all residential energy use went  to space heating and cooling; in 1993, it accounted for nearly 60%. But EIA data show that by 2009, that share had dropped to 48%. And in the period 1993 to 2009, energy for appliances, electronics, and lighting rose from 24% to 35%, owing to the proliferation of appliances, as well as trends toward larger TVs and other devices.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    For decades, more than half of all residential energy use went  to space heating and cooling; in 1993, it accounted for nearly 60%. But EIA data show that by 2009, that share had dropped to 48%. And in the period 1993 to 2009, energy for appliances, electronics, and lighting rose from 24% to 35%, owing to the proliferation of appliances, as well as trends toward larger TVs and other devices.

In 2014, of the four economic sectors, which used the most energy in the United States?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, the industrial sector represented 32% of U.S. energy use, while transportation was 28%. Residential and commercial were 22% and 19% respectively.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, the industrial sector represented 32% of U.S. energy use, while transportation was 28%. Residential and commercial were 22% and 19% respectively.

  • Correct!

    In 2014, the industrial sector represented 32% of U.S. energy use, while transportation was 28%. Residential and commercial were 22% and 19% respectively.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, the industrial sector represented 32% of U.S. energy use, while transportation was 28%. Residential and commercial were 22% and 19% respectively.

The consumption of energy worldwide is projected to rise by how much between 2013 and 2040?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    U.S. energy consumption is projected to rise 9% by 2040, or 0.3% per  year, while global consumption will increase about 50% over the same period 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    U.S. energy consumption is projected to rise 9% by 2040, or 0.3% per  year, while global consumption will increase about 50% over the same period 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    U.S. energy consumption is projected to rise 9% by 2040, or 0.3% per  year, while global consumption will increase about 50% over the same period 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    U.S. energy consumption is projected to rise 9% by 2040, or 0.3% per  year, while global consumption will increase about 50% over the same period 

  • Correct!

    U.S. energy consumption is projected to rise 9% by 2040, or 0.3% per  year, while global consumption will increase about 50% over the same period 

Refrigerators became 70% more efficient between 1972 and 2001, primarily due to regulation. What is a market response to increased efficiency of refrigerators?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Refrigerators are not likely to be used more or less hours in the day, but people are more likely to have more of them if they cost less to operate.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Refrigerators are not likely to be used more or less hours in the day, but people are more likely to have more of them if they cost less to operate.

  • Correct!

    Refrigerators are not likely to be used more or less hours in the day, but people are more likely to have more of them if they cost less to operate.

What is a major reason that the U.S. is exporting more oil in 2014 than in 2005?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    New technologies for drilling have led to increases in supply of oil in the U.S. in the decade up to 2014.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    New technologies for drilling have led to increases in supply of oil in the U.S. in the decade up to 2014.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    New technologies for drilling have led to increases in supply of oil in the U.S. in the decade up to 2014.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    New technologies for drilling have led to increases in supply of oil in the U.S. in the decade up to 2014.

  • Correct!

    New technologies for drilling have led to increases in supply of oil in the U.S. in the decade up to 2014.

True or false? Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have increased oil and gas production in the U.S.

  • Correct!

    Extraction of "tight" oil—light crude oil contained in geological formations of shale or sandstone—accounted for only 12% of total U.S. oil production in 2008. By 2012, it made up 35%, and is predicted to rise to 50% in the near term.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Extraction of "tight" oil—light crude oil contained in geological formations of shale or sandstone—accounted for only 12% of total U.S. oil production in 2008. By 2012, it made up 35%, and is predicted to rise to 50% in the near term.

What percentage of harvested corn was used to produce ethanol in the U.S. in 2014?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, about 38% of harvested corn in the US went to make ethanol and its associated coproducts

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, about 38% of harvested corn in the US went to make ethanol and its associated coproducts

  • Correct!

    In 2014, about 38% of harvested corn in the US went to make ethanol and its associated coproducts

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, about 38% of harvested corn in the US went to make ethanol and its associated coproducts

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, about 38% of harvested corn in the US went to make ethanol and its associated coproducts

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, about 38% of harvested corn in the US went to make ethanol and its associated coproducts

Renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, biofuels, waste, and wood) accounted for what percentage of the total energy supply in the United States in 2014?

  • Correct!

    In 2014, 10% of our total energy use came from renewable energy sources, such as biomass, wind, solar, and hydropower.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, 10% of our total energy use came from renewable energy sources, such as biomass, wind, solar, and hydropower.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, 10% of our total energy use came from renewable energy sources, such as biomass, wind, solar, and hydropower.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, 10% of our total energy use came from renewable energy sources, such as biomass, wind, solar, and hydropower.

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Ethanol (or Ethyl Alcohol)

Best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, it is produced in large quantities through the fermentation of the sugars and carbohydrates in agricultural crops and blended with gasoline as an alternative to conventional oil-based fuels for motor vehicles.

View our full glossary