Electricity is an essential part of modern life and important to the U.S. economy. People use electricity for lighting, heating, cooling, and refrigeration and for operating appliances, computers, electronics, machinery, and public transportation systems.
Total U.S. electricity consumption in 2020 was about 3.8 trillion kWh and 13 times greater than electricity use in 1950.
Total electricity consumption includes retail sales of electricity to consumers and direct use electricity. Direct use electricity is both produced by and used by the consumer.
The industrial sector accounts for the majority of direct use electricity. In 2020, retail sales of electricity were about 3.66 trillion kWh, equal to 96% of total electricity consumption.
Direct use of electricity by all end-use sectors was about 0.14 trillion kWh, or about 4% of total electricity consumption.
Total annual U.S. electricity consumption increased in all but 11 years between 1950 and 2020, and 8 of the years with year-over-year decreases occurred after 2007.
The highest level of total annual electricity consumption occurred in 2018 at about 4 trillion kWh, when a relatively warm summer and cold winter in most regions of the country contributed to record-high residential electricity use of nearly 1.5 trillion kWh.
Total U.S. electricity consumption in 2020 was about 4% lower than in 2019, with decreases in the commercial and industrial sectors. Electricity retail sales to the industrial sector in 2020 were about 14% lower than in 2000, the peak year of U.S. retail sales to the industrial sector.
The industrial sector’s share of total U.S. electricity retail sales dropped from 31% in 2000 to 25% in 2020. Residential retail sales increased about 2% in 2020.
Electricity is the presence and flow of electric charge. Using electricity we can transfer energy in ways that allow us to do simple chores. Its best-known form is the flow of electrons through conductors such as copper wires.
The word “electricity” is sometimes used to mean “electrical energy“. They are not the same thing: electricity is a transmission medium for electrical energy, like sea water is a transmission medium for wave energy.
An item which allows electricity to move through it is called a conductor. Copper wires and other metal items are good conductors, allowing electricity to move through them and transmit electrical energy.
Plastic is a bad conductor (also called an insulator) and doesn’t allow much electricity to move through it so it will stop the transmission of electrical energy.
Lightning is the most known – and dangerous – kind of electric current in nature, but sometimes static electricity causes things to stick together in nature as well.
Since the nineteenth century, electricity has been used in every part of our lives. Until then, it was just a curiosity seen in the lightning of a thunderstorm.