Home Energy in the United States Explained

Home energy in the United States is primarily fueled by natural gas. By 2035, natural gas will power 80 percent of the country’s electricity. Other sources for home energy in the U.S. are coal, nuclear power, hydroelectricity, wind, and solar power. Read our guide for U.S. energy facts explained and free resources on how to conserve home energy in the United States.

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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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It is almost impossible to imagine what our life would be like without electricity. From industry to businesses and homes, Americans use energy to keep the gears of society turning.

Energy consumption within the American household is an interesting subject that offers a lot of points for discussion, reflection, and learning. Because of the negative effects relying on traditional limited and harmful sources of energy taking center stage in the past two decades, the topic has also become a debated one.

Let’s delve more into the issue and learn about the many sources of home energy, how we can generate power for emergencies, and the many ways we can conserve power.

What is Electricity?

Electricity is a naturally occurring force that is the result of the motion and presence of electrically charged matter. Although humans have been aware of its existence since the time of the ancient Greeks, we have only really harnessed and successfully used it as a source of power since the late 1800s, starting with Thomas Edison’s invention of the first electric light bulb.


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Generating Electricity

Electricity can be generated from numerous sources including both renewable and non-renewable ones. This diversity is a good thing since it is predicted that there will be a need for a steady increase of about 0.4% in electricity generation every year until the year 2040.

Natural Gas: Popular due to its clean burning nature, natural gas is pegged to generate eighty percent of all generated electricity in the US by the year 2035.

Coal: Coal is another primary source of electricity in the US with over twenty percent of  total generated energy coming from the fossil fuel.

Nuclear: Nuclear energy is an interesting source of electricity because it does not produce greenhouse gasses. Unfortunately, its production is on a plateau despite efforts of increasing capacity, perhaps in part due to the problem of it leading to harmful environmental and quality of life issues in the areas surrounding a power plant if a major accident occurs.

Hydroelectricity: As its name implies, hydroelectricity is a type of electricity generated from the movement of water.

Wind: Electric power can also be generated from wind using turbines to transform mechanical power into electricity.

Solar: The sun has been a source of energy for the planet for billions of years. Today, we are still harnessing its rays to power homes through solar power.

Wood Derived Fuels: Wood fuel includes things like charcoal, sawdust, pellets, and firewood which can be burned to provide power to turbines which then generate electricity.

Oil: Oil is a primary source of fuel in the US fulfilling about forty percent of the nation’s heating needs. However, only a small percent of it is used to power electric power plants.

Geothermal: Geothermal power which is derived from the planet’s heat is a popular renewable source of energy and electricity. Thus, geothermal, together with solar and wind energy sources, are predicted to increase by about forty percent by the year 2040.

Biomass: Biomass is a fuel source which comes from agricultural waste and wood materials. It has the potential to be used in the production of electricity.

To know more about how each source is used to generate electricity, check out the resources below.


At Home Emergency Power Generation

You can generate your own electricity at home during times of emergencies and power outages through generators. These stand-by generators, which most commonly use either diesel fuel or gasoline, automatically supply power whenever your regular source is suddenly interrupted.

Depending on their capacity, a generator can supply electricity to power anything from a single small lamp to numerous big appliances at the same time. If you live in a disaster-prone area, investing in a generator is a smart move to prepare you for emergency situations.

You can find more information about how to choose a standby generator for your home and how to install and care for it properly in the links below.


Reducing Home Energy Conservation

Reducing your home’s energy consumption offers a lot of benefits for the environment and your wallet. To help cut down on your electric bill and avoid wasting energy, here are some tried and tested, easy tips.

Don’t forget to unplug/turn things off.  Start small by making sure to switch off lights whenever you leave a room. Make it a habit to unplug your television, cable boxes, or game consoles when you’re not using them as they still eat up power when left plugged in. Using a power strip that can be turned on and off with a switch is an easy way to do this without having to struggle with cords.

Switch to LED bulbs. These bulbs use about eighty-five percent less energy than other bulbs. They are also getting more affordable as they become more mass-produced.

Insulate your house. Sealing your home can help reduce your utility bills.

Utilize natural light during the day. Instead of switching on your lights, why not use natural light (which is free) by opening windows or even installing skylights in strategic areas of your home?

Find more tips on how you can conserve energy at home through the resources below.


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Additional Resources

Want to learn more about how US households use energy? You can find additional reading material when you follow the links in this section.

The American Geosciences Institute discusses how we use energy in the US on their page: What are the major sources and users of energy in the United States? If you still need more information, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions discusses personal consumption of electricity: Home energy use.

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