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James Burgess

James Burgess

James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…

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The US Wastes Enough Energy Each Year to Power the UK for Seven Years

Each year the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory releases an analysis of the energy input and energy use of the US economy to determine the energy efficiency.

It might be somewhat surprising to know that in 2012 the US wasted 61% of all energy input into its economy, making it just 39% energy efficient.

Of the 95.1 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) of raw energy that entered the US economy, only 37.0 quadrillion BTUs were actually used, with the other 58.1 quadrillion BTUs being wasted.

Related article: US Energy Boom to Create 500,000 Additional Jobs by 2020

US energy efficiency
US energy efficiency. (LLNL)

In 1970, the US economy actually managed to use more energy than it wasted, using 31.1 quadrillion BTUs and only wasting 30.6 quadrillion BTUs, achieving an energy efficiency of higher than 50%. Since then the overall energy efficiency of the economy has steadily fallen as the use of electricity generation and transport has increased.

Power plants and internal combustion engines are notoriously inefficient, and as there use has increased, so the efficiency of the economy has fallen.

Some people even suggest that the 39% energy efficiency stated in the analysis is generous, with physicist Robert Ayres stating that the figure should be closer to 14%.

CleanTechnica show an interesting diagram explaining the amount of energy wasted by the US
CleanTechnica show an interesting diagram explaining the amount of energy wasted by the US. (CleanTechnica)

Related article: Canada's LNG Dream – Racing Ahead…at a Snail's Pace

For the past ten years the National Laboratory has calculated the US energy waste to be in the region of 50%-58%, but in 2012 this figure jumped to one of the worst levels in decades.

AJ Simon, a senior researcher at the laboratory explained that the jump was mostly due to a change in the ways that they calculated the end use of the energy for vehicles and households. After separate studies into the efficiency of household energy use in areas such as heating, air conditioning and lighting, the figure was dropped from 80% to 65%. Likewise, the efficiency of the internal combustion engine was revised down to 21% from 25%.

Source: http://blog.opower.com/2013/08/the-tradition-continues-the-united-states-wastes-more-energy-than-it-uses/
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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  • Marcus on September 02 2013 said:
    In California where such programs have been in place since the late 70's, the results are pretty spectacular. Per capita electricty use in California is half the rest of the country and has remained tbe same for 35 years. Mind you this is with more than half the population living where a/c is needed. There is an estimate that the policies have prevented the construction of 13 large scale power plants. Conservation plus site based alt energy have dropped CAL ISOs max power needs from 50GW in 2006 down to 46GW with alt energy about 10% of that. Est. 35 year savings of $74 billion by business and consumers. In terms of GDP/btu, California businesses are way above most everyone else. Don't worry, you'll catch up. Maybe.
  • Skyscamp on August 27 2013 said:
    So outlawing incandescent bulbs and using energy star rated appliances has not helped at all?!! What about the money and rebates paid to upgrade housing insulation, and heating and air conditioning units? I would love to hear a correct explanation for this.

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