Natural gas has a myriad of uses and impacts nearly every facet of functions in our everyday lives. Similar to petroleum oil it is a fossil fuel, but it is cleaner for the environment when it is burned. Natural gas is extracted from oil fields or pockets of natural gas beneath the Earth’s surface and forced upward by natural pressure. After that, it is processed and utilized by consumers and businesses.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States is the largest consumer of natural gas worldwide. In 2017, the U.S. recorded 27.1 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas used, accounting for 29% of its energy consumption. But where does all that energy go?
More than half of the homes in the U.S. use natural gas in some form. It’s utilized in a myriad of household appliances, including water heaters, dryers, ranges, and heaters. By understanding how we use it in residential homes, we can deduce how it is being used commercially.
Facilities such as restaurants, hotels, office buildings, hospitals, and schools utilize similar types of appliances on a much larger scale. In addition, the commercial sector also uses natural gas for refrigeration and cooling equipment as well as things like lighting, such as in outdoor gas lamps. The average consumer may also be aware that natural gas is utilized in the transportation sector as well.
Like propane, natural gas can be compressed into a liquefied form. With the shift to using cleaner energy, many public transportation companies converted to natural gas buses to reduce their emissions. We also have to consider corporate fleets as significant users in the transportation sector. Even with the advancement of technology, the vast majority of products are still shipped through logistics companies. Large fleets will continue to utilize this energy source to power their vehicles. As a consumer, you would be able to convert your vehicle to use natural gas, but it does come at a substantial cost.
Now that we understand some of the sectors that utilize natural gas, we need to look at the biggest natural gas users. The first sector we’ll address is the industrial sector.
The industrial sector accounts for approximately 35% of U.S. natural gas consumption, the largest percentage being used by any sector. That would include manufacturing, or as the U.S. Energy Information Administration describes it “producing, processing, and assembling of goods.”
Finally, we come to our second largest category of natural gas consumption, the electrical power sector. It may surprise you to find that 34% of U.S. natural gas consumption is used to produce electricity. In 2017, natural gas accounted for 29% of the United State’s energy source. Petroleum, coal, nuclear electric power, and renewable energy are all other forms of energy used. Natural gas is a widely used energy source and will continue to be one for the nation.