The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) releases energy flow charts every year and 2015's showed that Americans used less energy on the overall compared to the previous year.
Based on the energy flow charts from 2015, those living in the United States used 0.8 quadrillion BTU, or quads, less compared to 2014. Estimated use of energy around the U.S. was pegged at 97.5 quads.
Coal use dropped by 12 percent, down to 15.7 quads, while use of natural gas grew by 3 percent, up to 28.3 quads. The reduction in coal consumption is attributed to the electricity sector's continued preference for natural gas.
In fact, according to A.J. Simon, LLNL energy program group leader, the overall drop in energy has been connected to the shift from coal power to gas and more modern power plants running on gas having the ability to produce the same level of electricity using up to 46 percent less energy.
Use of renewable energy is soaring continuously, with wind energy use up by 5 percent and residential solar energy and geothermal energy both up by 11 percent. The completion of major solar projects contributed to the 25 percent growth in the use of utility-level solar energy. Photovoltaic panels are also more affordable now, aiding in the rapid adoption of solar energy.
Natural gas use in the residential sector dropped in 2015 by 0.5 quads thanks to a mild winter. In the industrial and commercial sector, use of natural gas didn't show dramatic enough of a decrease.
With the drop in overall use, there was also a reduction in wasted energy, which went from 59.4 quads in 2014 to 59.1 quads in 2015. This decrease is associated with the increase in electricity production efficiency, said Simon.
Most of the energy Americans consumed in 2015 (38 quads) went to generating electricity. In second place is transportation, followed by the industrial, residential and commercial sectors. The industrial, residential and commercial sectors all consumed less energy, with the exception of petroleum use, which grew by 2 percent in 2015. However, petroleum use was considered synonymous with economic growth, where more economic activity results in more industrial and commercial shipments and more people driving for recreation and work.