Human Energy Use and Consumption

Human Energy Use and Consumption

Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors. Currently, the primary sources of energy used by humans include fuels, like coal, oil, natural gas, uranium, and biomass. All these fuels—except biomass—are nonrenewable. Primary sources of energy also include renewables, such as sunlight, wind, moving water, and geothermal energy.

Fossil fuels contain energy captured millions of years ago from sunlight by living organisms. The energy in fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal comes from energy that producers (plants and algae) captured from sunlight long ago. Energy stored in these fuels is released by burning them, which also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Human demand for energy is increasing.

For resources in addition to those featured below, follow these links:

Lesson Take Away: 

Humans harness energy from any available resource and the demand for that energy is ever increasing.

The Ask: 

Be efficient and economical with your energy use. This leaves more energy for all—including you—in the future.

Last Updated: December 20, 2018
At the University of Central Florida, the Department of Sustainability & Energy holds an annual competition to reduce the energy used on campus. The offer incentives and pit dorms against each other in a friendly contest. They are saving tens-of...

The Kill-a-Watt Competition

At the University of Central Florida, the Department of Sustainability & Energy holds an annual competition to reduce the energy used on campus. The offer incentives and pit dorms against each other in a friendly contest. They are saving tens-of-thousands of dollars!

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This is the landing page for the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It offers the most extensive and accessible collection of energy related information for the United States.

U.S. Energy Information Administration

This is the landing page for the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It offers the most extensive and accessible collection of energy related information for the United States.

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This very accessible tool allows you to search energy information by state. It includes generation, usage, capacity, and other statistics.

U.S. Energy Information Administration Energy Profile by State

This very accessible tool allows you to search energy information by state. It includes generation, usage, capacity, and other statistics.

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Energy powers all living systems and this NASA video shows how energy flows from the Sun, to the Earth, through humans, and through the technology humans use. Video length: 2:21 min.

Carbon and Climate Change in 90 Seconds

Energy powers all living systems and this NASA video shows how energy flows from the Sun, to the Earth, through humans, and through the technology humans use.

Video length: 2:21 min.

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A look at how humans use energy, the sources of our energy, and why a growing population needs more, clean energy.  ©EARTH: The Operators Manual

Humans and Energy—Earth: The Operators’ Manual

A look at how humans use energy, the sources of our energy, and why a growing population needs more, clean energy. 

©EARTH: The Operators Manual

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Just how much energy can Sun, hydropower, biomass and geothermal offer? This video sets a target of seeing whether, in principle, renewable energy resources could meet today’s global energy needs of about 15.7 terawatts. ©EARTH: The Operators Manual

Renewables Roundup—Earth: The Operators’ Manual

Just how much energy can Sun, hydropower, biomass and geothermal offer? This video sets a target of seeing whether, in principle, renewable energy resources could meet today’s global energy needs of about 15.7 terawatts.

©EARTH: The Operators Manual

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The U.S. electric grid has been called the largest machine in the world. It’s also one of the oldest in continuous operation. Upgrading transmission in developed countries, and building more of it elsewhere, will be expensive but necessary to reduce...

Transmission: Switch Energy Project

The U.S. electric grid has been called the largest machine in the world. It’s also one of the oldest in continuous operation. Upgrading transmission in developed countries, and building more of it elsewhere, will be expensive but necessary to reduce power loss, inefficiencies and instability, and to accommodate renewables and distributed power production—a place where governments can help.

©Switch Energy Project 

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Oil goes into myriad products that have transformed our modern world, but none so much as gasoline and diesel. They provide a level of mobility for people and products never before known, creating the first global economy, which is now so dependent on...

Oil: Switch Energy Project

Oil goes into myriad products that have transformed our modern world, but none so much as gasoline and diesel. They provide a level of mobility for people and products never before known, creating the first global economy, which is now so dependent on oil that price shocks have global impacts. A wise economic response is to diversify into other transport fuels. This could also bring environmental and political benefits.

©Switch Energy Project 

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