Thursday, October 6, 2011

US Energy Consumption Lower Than In 2000

The year 2000, when Vice President Gore battled Governor Bush, before Twitter and Facebook, is a long time ago in a fast moving world.

A near iron rule of energy markets has been that consumption increases steadily, year after year. No more. It's time for a New Rule in the USA.

In 2011, the USA probably will consume about 1% less total energy than in 2000 when America used 98,814 trillion btu, according to EIA data.

Strikingly the era of no growth or falling demand began before the near depression during the end of 2008 and into the first half of 2009. From 2000 to 2007, when the recession began, total US energy demand barely increased, nudging up a bit more than 1%. That is a total of 1%, not a 1% per year growth rate.

Energy consumption did fall sharply in 2009 to 94,475 trillion btu but bounced back to 98,073 trillion btu in 2010. EIA data for the first 6 months of 2011 show consumption is essentially the same as 2010 and less than 2000.

The reasons for no increase in energy demand since 2000 are not the economic collapse in 2008 to 2009. The national GDP has grown every quarter since July 1, 2009 and is bigger than in 2000.

Slow economic growth since 2000 has combined with the mass deployment of much more efficient lighting, appliances, motors, vehicles to keep US energy consumption below 2000 levels. Recent high oil prices have reduced economic growth rates and sent a painful price signal to consumers, thereby boosting again the momentum to use energy efficiently, and putting downward pressure on consumption.

The new rule for energy markets during the next decade in the USA may become flat consumption or even slightly declining sales.


  1. Do those EIA data account for life cycle energy consumption of products consumed? I would be shocked if they do, which is a huge problem with these sorts of numbers. For instance, with respect to CO2 emissions, when you take into account "outsourced" emissions (i.e., emissions generated in producing imports), developed countries' CO2 emissions have increased, whereas if you exclude "outsourced" emissions it looks like they have decreased. ( I surmise the same would be seen in energy consumption - if the EIA is not including the energy spent in producing all of the products imported from China that we consume, then it's greatly underestimating our true energy consumption.

    With that said, I'll take any positive news I can get on the energy front. And it's good to see at least domestic progress, but again we need to consider life-cycle calculations. The more efficient appliances in particular has been great to see.

  2. You are right. The data does not include the energy the chinese used to make something they exported here. The same is true in reverse.