Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have recently completed their study of estimated US energy use in 2011 and were pleased to find it had reduced compared to the prior year. The drop from 98 quadrillion BTUs, or quads, to 97.3 quads is largely from a drop in rejected or wasted energy. This implies that last year Americans personally used less energy and that more efficient energy sources were employed to generate what was used.
Electricity generation was still the largest use of energy at 39.2 quads and saw some movement of power sources. Coal and oil use dropped, likely due to their high prices, while natural gas use increased, likely thanks to its relatively low price. Hydroelectric and wind power both saw significant increases in output thanks as more wind farms are coming online and high rainfall allowed more hydroelectric dams to operate at their maximum levels while their reservoirs remained full.
After electricity generation we see transportation, industry, residential, and commercial use as the other sectors of energy use. Each of those saw a decrease in power consumption except industrial use, which saw a mild increase of 0.33 quads. These drops were most likely due to people using more efficient devices and cars, and, in the case of cars, just not driving as much. Hopefully we can continue the downward trend into next year (especially for rejected energy).