Not a surprise, but new energy cost figures released this week by the federal government showed Americans spent less on energy in 2020 when the Covid pandemic hit the world.
In 2020, the amount U.S. consumers spent on energy (energy expenditures) fell to $1 trillion, the least amount since 2002, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s State Energy Data System (SEDS).
U.S. energy expenditures are the total amount spent on all energy used in the residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors combined. COVID-19 mitigation efforts and warmer weather contributed to a record 7% decrease in energy consumption between 2019 and 2020, and when combined with the 10% decrease in average energy prices during that period (when adjusted for inflation), U.S. energy expenditures also declined.
Per capita U.S. energy expenditures were $3,039 per person in 2020, down 19% from 2019. This cost was the lowest per capita U.S. energy expenditure since 1999. Per capita energy expenditures fell in all 50 states, ranging from declines of 12% in South Dakota to 33% in Hawaii.
U.S. energy expenditures accounted for 4.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, the lowest share in the data series that dates back to 1970. This metric compares the total amount of money spent on end-use energy in the United States to the value of all goods and services in the U.S. economy.
Petroleum products, such as motor gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, made up $503 billion of end-use energy expenditures in 2020, a 29% decrease from 2019 and the least amount since 2002. Petroleum still made up half of all end-use energy expenditures in 2020.
The second-highest end-use energy expenditures in the United States in 2020 were $390 billion for electricity, about 39% of the nation’s total energy expenditures. The electricity expenditures estimate we publish includes the amount of money spent on electricity by end-use customers, such as businesses and homes.
Natural gas used for purposes other than generating electricity, such as heating homes and buildings, accounted for about 11% ($106 billion) of the nation’s total. Coal used for purposes other than generating electricity, such as metal manufacturing, accounted for less than 1% ($3 billion) of the nation’s total energy expenditures.
Due to price changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its mitigation efforts globally, 2020 was a unique year for energy expenditures. Energy prices at the beginning of 2021 were higher than the 2020 average.