America’s Energy Addiction: Where It Comes From, Where It Goes

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Source: David McNew/Getty Images

David McNew/Getty Images

America is addicted to energy. We drill miles under the ocean, run nation-length pipelines, and even fight wars just to get our fix. Our reliance on cheap fuel sources has also helped bring untold prosperity to the United States, helping power businesses and residential dwellings, and also supplying everyone with ample power to properly heat and cool their homes. There is also plenty of oil power the millions of vehicles, not to mention ships, airplanes, and everything other method of transport we have been able to come up with.

Since the United States depends so largely upon energy, we have been able to find several different sources from which to harvest it. Not only are traditional fossil fuels on that list, but new developments and innovations are leading us to exciting ways of harnessing energy every year. One hundred years ago, harvesting power from nuclear plants, solar, and even tidal energy was impossible. Now, they are all beginning to become major sources of electricity production.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently published their brief on energy use in America, outlining the major sources and the major users by sector. Their findings show that power use varies very widely depending on the specific sector, and that studying the specifics of how each area of the economy uses power can lead to important insights. Different energy sources, whether it be coal or solar energy, are all measured in different ways. But thanks to the BTU, or British Thermal Unit, we have a medium with which to compare them all. One BTU is equal to the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

By using the BTU scale, the EIA is able to compare all different forms of energy, and see how they are being used, and by whom.

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