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When you look outside, what do you see? Probably a few cars on the road, and an abundance of lights shining from posts and windows. Yet, all those bulbs and engines only make up a fraction of the our total energy use as a nation. Nearly everything we see and do in our daily lives need energy to work. However, most of that energy may be taken up in places you didn’t realize needed so much.

Here, we’ll look at energy consumption from both a national, and residential standpoint — helping you understand where it all goes, and maybe how to save a little more along the way.

Our energy consumption from a national level.

First, a macro and national level view of energy consumption in the United States.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), there are five sectors that make up the energy consumption in the United States:

1.     Electric Power

2.     Transportation

3.     Industrial

4.     Residential

5.     Commercial

From a national view, most of our energy is consumed by the transportation and industrial sectors, with industrial leading the way. As of 2017, the industrial sector accounted for 32 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, and the transportation sector accounted for 28 percent, per Statista, the Statistics Portal. Driving a little less and encouraging green initiatives at work are great ways to make a difference in these two huge energy use sectors.

  • The transportation sector gets over 90 percent of its energy from petroleum. Biofuels, natural gas, and electricity provide relatively small amounts in comparison. Gasoline is the most commonly used U.S. transportation fuel, but that is gradually changing. As advances in technology continue, electric cars will become a larger staple in the transportation market. If you absolutely can’t get there without a car, consider making the switch to a hybrid or electric the next time you’re ready to buy. These vehicles are making major impacts on our roadway efficiency.
  • The industrial sector covers a broad range of activity — everything related to the production, processing, assembly of material goods in in the United States. Think: factories, construction, farms, fishing, mining, and much more.
  • The commercial sector – which represents businesses such as retail stores and auto dealerships – accounted for 18 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2017. Even though most of the energy consumption derided from the burning of fossil fuels, corporations are beginning to make changes to their manufacturing processes which is seeing them stray away from fossil fuels.

While these sectors use huge amounts of energy, and have been traditionally slow to adapt renewable resources into their use, things are changing. Corporate leadership and consumer interest, and renewable energy technology advances have changed the landscape.

Check out these 156 major brands to committed to 100% renewable energy, and how they’re getting there.

Our energy consumption from a residential level.

Just like companies previously mentioned, we as consumers have the ability to change where our energy comes from. According to the article from Statista that we mentioned earlier,

The residential sector accounted for 20 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2017. HVAC systems, water heaters, washer/dryers, and lighting together can consume almost 90% of your home energy use.

However, these systems are all subject to human habits, which can make it relatively easy to lower your impact and carbon footprint. Plus, saving energy means saving money. Each LED bulb you plug in, smart thermostat you install, and hour you leave your lights off helps reduce energy consumption.

As the U.S. population continues to grow, so will our energy consumption. We don’t always have control over some of the bigger things happening in other sectors. However, every individual can take real, meaningful choices to make a difference. Even the little things can make a big difference together.

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