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Energy and You

Photo of Golden Gate Bridge at sunrset.

Today, more than ever, consumers have the ability and the interest to choose clean energy, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and efficient combined heat and power.

These options can help you stabilize or reduce your energy bills, which have been rising in many areas in recent years.

   The benefits of clean energy include:
  • Reduced emissions of air pollution and greenhouse gases
  • Lower consumer energy bills
  • Enhanced state and local economic development and job creation
  • Improved reliability and security of our nation’s energy system

EPA’s Clean Energy Web site can help you understand how energy use affects the environment, what your personal impact is, and how you can help mitigate that impact.

Just follow the links below to find out more!

What is the impact of electricity generation on the environment?
How clean is the electricity I use?
How can I reduce my impact?

What Is the Impact of Electricity Generation on the Environment?

Of the total energy consumed in America, about 39% is used to generate electricity. Therefore, electricity consumption is an important portion of a consumer's environmental footprint.

All forms of electricity generation have some level of environmental impact. As the chart below shows, most of the electricity in the United States is generated from fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil. 

Fuel Mix for U.S. Electricity Generation

2004 Fuel Mix for U.S. Electricity Generation: Coal, 50%; Nuclear, 20%; Natural Gas, 17%; Hydro, 7%; Oil, 3%; Other Renewable, 1%; Biomass,1%.

Data from U.S. EPA, U.S. GHG Emissions Inventory (2004).

Using energy more efficiently through more efficient end-uses or through more efficient generation, such as Combined Heat and Power, reduces the amount of fuel required to produce a unit of energy output and reduces the corresponding emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases. Electricity from renewable resources such as solar, geothermal, and wind technologies generally does not contribute to climate change or local air pollution since no fuels are combusted in these processes.

To read more about the impacts of electricity use on the environment visit How does electricity use affect the environment?

There are also opportunities to reduce your environmental impact in the transportation sector, for more information visit www.epa.gov/otaq.

How Clean Is the Electricity I Use?

The emissions caused by power generation vary from state to state, depending on the electricity generation technologies used in the region. The map below shows state-specific emission rates for carbon dioxide, an important greenhouse gas associated with global climate change. (Data are from U.S. EPA, eGRID, 2000.)

 

CO2 Rate (lb per MWh) Map of US

You can use the Power Profiler to generate a report about your own electricity use, like the one shown below. All you need is your zip code. The Power Profiler takes about five minutes to run. To enter the Power Profiler, click on the link below.

Enter the Power Profiler

Sample Power Profiler Report
Graphic of sample Power Profiler Report
(Enlarged version of this graphic)
(Text version of this graphic)

 

How Can I Reduce My Impact?

Reducing the environmental impacts of your energy use is easy and can be done by making good energy decisions.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
www.epa.gov