How Americans use energy, in three simple charts

Donald Marron passes along a very handy chart from the Congressional Budget Office looking at what sources of energy the United States relies on — and for what purpose:


Do we need more charts? We probably need more charts. Here’s another handy one showing where U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions come from, sector by sector, courtesy of a new report from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change:


“Commercial” refers to commercial buildings and “Residential” refers to, well, homes and apartments. Pew also offers up this excellent chart showing how the energy in a typical home is used. The vast majority of energy goes toward heating and cooling:


Residential Buildings Total Energy End Use (2008)

There’s some more historical context about how household energy use has changed over time from the U.S. Energy Information Administration here. One surprising point is that residential energy use stayed roughly flat between 1978 and 2005. Home heating became far more efficient. But on the flip side, an increasing number of homes have installed central air conditioning, and people are using more appliances and electronic gadgets than ever before. “As a result,” the EIA notes, “total residential energy consumption remained virtually the same.”

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