Energy consumption and supply in the United States

The modern household is highly dependent on energy. Computers, toasters, and cars all require energy to run. So with more than 300 million people living in the United States, how much energy is consumed each year? According to the U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA,, 95.1 quadrillion Btu (British thermal units) of primary energy was consumed in the United States in 2012. That comes out to 312.8 million Btu per person. Less per person than a Canadian uses, but more than the average German or French person consumes.

Of course not all energy consumption in the United States is by households. In fact, total residential and commercial energy consumption is much smaller than industrial consumption, which is in turn, smaller than total transportation-related consumption. So where does the 95.1 quadrillion Btu the United States requires to operate come from?

A lot of it comes from petroleum. This is because transportation-related consumption is a very large slice of the energy-use pie and we depend on gasoline to fuel our cars. Petroleum provided 36 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States in 2012. Natural gas was the second largest energy source, providing 27 percent. Coal provided 18 percent, rounding out the fossil fuel sources, which in total accounted for more than 81 percent of the energy consumed in the United States.

Renewable energy sources accounted for approximately nine percent of total energy consumption. The largest renewable energy source was hydroelectric power. Currently, wind and solar energy sources comprise less than one-third of total renewable energy. Some companies such as Just Energy Texas have started utilizing this. However, wind and solar technology continues to improve and their contribution to total energy supply is projected to increase steadily in the coming decades. The EIA estimates that by 2040 solar and wind-generated electricity will be on par with hydropower, which is not projected to increase significantly.

Finally, nuclear power supplied approximately eight percent of the total energy consumed in the United States in 2012. However, it still provides nearly 20 percent of electricity consumed. No new nuclear power plants have been built in the United States since 1974 though, suggesting that the fraction of energy supplied by nuclear power will only decline in the future.

The United States was the second largest consumer of energy in the world in 2012, using slightly less than China. As mentioned previously, petroleum was the largest source of energy consumed in the United States. According to the EIA, 40 percent of that petroleum was imported, mostly from Canada and Saudi Arabia, 28 and 13 percent, respectively. In contrast with petroleum, only about six percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States in 2012 was imported.

Where Do Crude Oil Reservoirs Come From?

When looking at the world’s oil supply, experts talk about proven and unproven reserves. Proven reserves have been verified to a near certainty, while unproven reserves are based on geological or engineering data which still needs further exploration.

The Middle East is where the largest concentrations of proven oil reserves can be found, and Saudi Arabia alone has over 20 percent of global supplies. Iran, Iraq and Kuwait take the regions share of the world’s total to over 50 percent. Additionally, the oil in the Middle East is easy to extract and refine.

Many people would (more…)

Relying on Shale Oil Reserves as a Fuel Source

With greater demand for more easily accessed and refined sources of oil, petroleum and other fossil fuels, there is increasing economic incentive to develop and implement mining operations and industrial efforts that are able to make use of other fuel sources and natural resources. Learning more about how shale can be refined into commercial grade oil may provide you with much needed insight into what the future of industrial mining and refining operations could bring. Relaying on shale oil reserves as a fuel source could do much to reduce demand for more accessible reserves (more…)

Pros and Cons of Off-Shore Drilling

In order to meet the increasing energy demands of the United States, there has been much discussion about drilling for oil off the nation’s shoreline. While there are potential benefits to off-shore drilling, there are many negative aspects as well.

One of the positives of off-shore drilling is the ability to produce more of the nation’s energy needs at home. The more energy that we can produce here makes the country less reliant on foreign energy sources. This in turn helps maintain a stable (more…)

Gas and Gear for an Efficient Winter

Natural gas is already a sustainable and affordable means of providing heat in the home. To save money on your natural gas costs, you can compare rates from IGS Energy in Ohio and other natural gas suppliers or simply use your natural gas more efficiently. Take the following steps in order to avoid winter’s harsh bite into heating bills.

Regaining control of the thermostat is a rule that should be applied year-round. Residents that conscientiously adjust their thermostat according to the weather and internal conditions of the home save an average of 3 per degree each year when compared to residents who simply leave the setting at one constant temperature. It is recommended that people turn down their thermostat 10 degrees when they are out of the home for work and again when they go to bed. This practice has been shown to reduce heating bills by as much as 14. Water heaters are also another big drain of power, particularly during the winter months. The majority of water heaters are set at temperatures that are much higher than necessary. People can reduce the water heater temperature to 115 degrees with no noticeable difference within the home.

Fans are an important part of the gas heating system as well. They play a major role in distributing heat throughout the home. However, as a part of the ventilation systems, they can be a source that is drawing heat out of the home. Ventilation fans in areas such as the bathroom and the kitchen should be turned off immediately when their job is complete. Securing the airflow in the commonly used rooms of the house can also make major contributions to heat retention. Fireplace dampeners should be closed, and rooms that seldom receive use should be blocked off with closed doors. Studies have shown that chimneys and flues in the home will actively suck hot air out of a room during winter conditions.

The majority of the heat being circulated through the home is actually lost in the duct work and in the pipes. Before the beginning of each winter, it is a good idea to have the duct work checked for poor connections and degrading insulation. A total of 60 of the heat being pumped into the home can be lost through faulty duct work. Water heaters and pipes can also be “swaddled” to ensure better heat retention. Pipe and water heater wraps are available from any hardware store for under 20.

Recent Oil Spills: Their Impact on Local Wildlife

Oil spills are one of the worst man made environmental hazards that occur. Unfortunately, the affects of oil spills not only damage pristine beaches, oil spills also harm and kill wild animals. One of the worst oil spills in history was the Exxon Valdez spill. However, in the last few years, there have been damaging spills as well.

In 2011, nearly 2,000 tons of oil spilled from a cargo vessel off the coast of New Zealand. This spill resulted (more…)

Petroleum is Not Only Used for Fuel

Many people believe that petroleum is used primarily for fuel, but this is not the case. Other fossil fuels provide the source for a great deal of the planet’s heating and vehicle fuel needs, many other uses for petroleum exist. For instance, if you have ever worn polyester clothing, you were wearing a petroleum product. Shampoo, soap, hair coloring, conditioner, moisturizer, shaving cream, hand lotion, makeup and other grooming products also contain significant amounts of petroleum.

If you enjoy sports, you probably use petroleum products (more…)

How Petroleum Forms and How We Extract It

Our world is fueled by petroleum. Over the past hundred years, western civilization has become dependent on the use of gas and oil pulled out of the ground and refined for industrial use. What most people don’t know is exactly how petroleum forms and how we extract it for use.

While we’re still not completely sure how exactly petroleum forms, we know that it’s a fossil fuel derived from dead organic matter. Huge amounts of these remains settle at the bottom of seas and lakes; over time, hundreds of (more…)

Why Do We Call Them “Fossil Fuels”?

Exactly what is a fossil fuel? A fossil fuel is coal, oil or natural gas. They’re called fossil fuels because of the way and the time they developed. A fossil fuel started developing before the time of the dinosaurs, which is why “fossil” is included in the name. This period is called the Carboniferous Period because of the carbon contained in fossil fuels. Fossil fuels were formed when animals, trees and plants died and then sank to the bottom of (more…)

Why Gas Prices Fluctuate: Some Environmental Reasons

There are many factors that go into determining the price one pays for a gallon of gas at the pump.While it is typically geo-political fears or rising tensions that make the headlines, simple environmental factors can have a dramatic impact on prices at the pump as well. Gasoline is produced from crude oil which is extracted from the ground. At any given time, the amount of oil being extracted may be increasing or decreasing. This can (more…)