Trends in U.S. Energy Usage

06/02/2014 |

Electricity falls while natural gas rises

Natural gas

Natural gas power plants could become more common in the future as they are less expensive than coal plants.

Americans used 2.3 quadrillion thermal units more in renewable, fossil, and nuclear energy in 2013 than 2012, according to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Electricity sales fell by 1.9% in 2012 over 2007's figures, with sales in the first 10 months of 2013 even lower, finds a report by the ACEEE. It's likely that energy-efficient buildings, lighting, and appliances have had a positive impact on energy usage.

Natural gas prices rose slightly in 2013 (0.6 quads), largely because of the cold winter. There is a growing push to build natural gas plants because they are less expensive than coal plants.

Wind energy increased 18% from 1.36 quadrillion BTUs in 2012 to 1.6 quads in 2013. This growth is attributed to new wind farms with bigger, more efficient turbines.

Nuclear energy was greater in 2013 than in 2012, though this may be because fewer reactors were down for refueling than in previous years. However, several reactors were permanently closed during this time period.

Carbon dioxide emissions associated with energy increased to 5,390 million metric tons, the first annual increase since 2010.

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