From transportation to household needs, how the US is powered impacts other issues, including the economy and the environment.
The federal government tracks data on energy in many ways, including how much and from where people get their energy, how much energy costs, and domestic energy production is compared to the rest of the world. This page provides some of these measures to answer fundamental questions on energy and shows how data helps develop an understanding of the issues that affect how the country's energy needs get met.
Energy is measured in large numbers. The standardized measurement for energy is the British thermal unit or BTU. The BTU is a relatively small unit of measurement. The Energy Information Administration calculates how much energy Americans consume for all needs, including fueling cars or heating homes. Consumption dipped in 2020 due to the pandemic, but increased above pre-pandemic levels the following year. As of 2021, the EIA estimates that the average US home consumes over 36 million BTUs in a year.
Fossil fuels — petroleum, natural gas, and coal — have been the primary energy source of the US since 1949, the earliest EIA data is available. These nonrenewable energy sources are the source of most greenhouse gas emissions in the US. Renewable or naturally replenished energy sources, including hydroelectric, wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal, have provided an increasing amount and share of US energy in recent years. Combined, renewable energy sources overtook nuclear power, considered nonrenewable, though zero-emissions, as the second-leading energy category in 2011.
In recent decades, renewable sources — biomass, wind, hydroelectric, solar, and geothermal — contributed more energy to Americans.
Among zero-emissions energy sources, nuclear power continues to provide Americans with more power than individual renewable sources, according to the Energy Information Administration. Nuclear power isn't considered renewable because uranium, the primary fuel, is not considered a renewable resource.
According to data from the Energy Information Administration, while total energy consumption has increased in the US since 1970, the amount of energy-related emissions per person decreased. This is because most of the increase in energy consumption is attributed to an increase in renewable and nuclear power.
Between the 1950s and the early 2000s, the US imported increasingly more energy products like gasoline than it exported, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. Since then, energy exports have increased while imports have decreased. When energy exports exceed energy imports, that could mean that the country is less dependent on other countries to meet needs.
While domestic natural gas and crude oil production have increased in recent decades, coal production has declined. Data from the Energy Information Administration tracks fossil fuel production in the United States since 1949.
The United States produces more crude oil than any other individual country. The Energy Information Administration measures oil production by million barrels per day. According to the agency, each barrel of crude oil produces 19 to 20 gallons of motor gasoline, in addition to other fuels.
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U), which the Bureau of Labor Statistics produces, tracks price changes of a “representative basket of goods and services,” including energy. The energy category includes electricity, motor fuel, gas utilities, and fuel oil. Energy prices are known to be volatile compared to other categories of spending. Energy prices may increase or decrease for several factors including changes in weather, production, imports, storage, delivery capabilities, or market activity.
These charts show the percent change in CPI-U for energy comparing one month to the same month a year before.
The Energy Information Administration tracks electricity prices, which the agency says reflects costs associated with power plants and the electricity grid. On average, annualized electricity costs are more stable than gas prices.
USAFacts categorizes government budget data to allocate spending appropriately, and to arrive at the estimate presented here. The federal government spends on energy supply, conservation, emergency preparedness, policy, and regulation.
Government revenue and expenditures are based on data from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Each is published annually, although due to collection times. This data does not include spending categorized as energy-specific at the state and local levels.
Level of government
Department of Energy
Fund and conduct research
State energy departments
Conduct energy assessments, provide additional subsidies for resource production and extractive industries
Level of government