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Sitting in the office of a solar company, I hear words such as volts, watts, kilowatts and kilowatt-hours tossed about with abandon. With my non-technical background it sounds like what I imagine a European must hear when Americans discuss a baseball game – it’s certainly a little confusing. To combat this confusion I compiled some questions I have such as, where does our energy come from, and where does it go? As well as, how is it measured? With these questions in mind I did some research so that you readers wouldn’t have to. My plan is to spend the next couple of posts addressing these issues.

This first post is going to cover some pretty big picture stuff.

According to the US Energy Information Administration electricity in the United States is generated by the following sources:

48% Coal

21% Natural Gas

20% Nuclear

9% Renewables

1% Petroleum

The energy in the United States doesn’t go solely to powering our homes. In fact, it’s a pretty inefficient system. (source, The Idiot’s Guide to Solar Power for Your Home):

25% goes for transportation

20% is used by industry

12% is for homes and businesses

AND 40% of energy in the US goes to making electricity

According to the Department of Energy, in the average home which spends about $1200 a year on their utilities, energy use can be broken down in the following way:

43% goes to heating and cooling

29% goes to lighting, cooking and appliances

12% goes to water heating

8% goes to refrigeration

8% other

These are just some interesting facts to mull over. Keep your eyes open from some more in the next few days.

Posted by Danny Kennedy

Danny Kennedy co-founded Sungevity and now serves as strategic advisor. He is an internationally recognized opinion leader on climate and energy issues. He is the author of Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy - and Planet - from Dirty Energy (2012), a book that has been described as the clean energy manifesto for the next greatest generation.

One Comment

  1. Victoria McBride March 2, 2010 at 12:18 am

    hahah nice baseball analogy!
    The numbers on coal were impressive, and coal mining is an extremely detrimental process… Many times they rip away entire hillsides, destroying entire ecosystems and polluting the groundwater with toxic chemicals.

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