Imagining energy consumption in the United States takes some creativity because the ideas and numbers are vast. People in the United States are among the highest consumers of energy in the entire world – we use 18% of all the energy used on the planet. Overall energy consumption in the United States in 2016 was measured at 97.4 quadrillion Btu.
What does that mean? Btu is an acronym that stands for British thermal unit, a measurement of energy equal to the amount of heat required to warm one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. A quadrillion is equal to a million billions, so imagining 97 quadrillion requires imagining, oh, 760 world economies, or the length of time since the earth was formed multiplied 2 million times.
Energy consumption in the United States is a big (pun intended) deal. Where it gets particularly interesting, though, is in comparing usage across space and type.
To answer the question we asked in our title, energy use provides yet more evidence that everything really is bigger in Texas. In 2015, Lone Star staters used approximately 13% of all the energy in the entire country. Add California’s energy use (8% of the entire country’s), and you have two states (or 4% of the states) using more than 20% of the country’s energy. Compare that to the frugal (and, admittedly, smaller) states of Vermont, Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, and New Hampshire. These make up the five lowest consuming states, which together used a tiny 1% of all the energy consumed in the country. Interestingly, ever since energy use has been tracked (beginning around 1961), Texas has always used the most energy, and Vermont always the least.
Americans consume a great deal of energy, which magnifies the importance of our energy sources. While renewable energy still makes up a small fraction of U.S. energy use, its use has nearly doubled in the past 15 years. More and more energy is being generated from renewable sources like wind, solar, and hydro, and more and more consumers are using that renewable energy.
A few states are definitely leading the way! Washington state gets almost 70% of its energy from hydro power, thanks to the Grand Coulee Dam, the nation’s largest hydroelectric power producer. Oregon has legislation in place that commits that state to 100% green energy use by 2050. And California makes the top of the list again, with major use of hydro, wind, and solar energy.
At Drift we’re continuously working towards adding clean, renewable energy to our supply. Interested? Contact us here.