Energy Intensity Indicators

Highlights of Trends

Energy intensity trends are reported in two categories, total energy and delivered energy, for each of the four end-use sectors (transportation, industrial, residential buildings, and commercial buildings). Select the images below to learn more about these energy intensity trends:

A chart with four lines shows that the U.S. economy has been growing while becoming less and less energy intensive between 1985 and 2004.  U.S. energy, GDP, and energy/GDP are plotted on a chart from 1949 to 2004.  A GDP index is plotted on the vertical axis, from 0.0 to 2.0, with 1985 equal to 1.0; years are plotted on the horizontal axis.  A line representing GDP rises gradually from nearly 0.3 in 1949 to 1.8 in 2004.  Another line, energy, begins at 0.4 in 1949 and rises at about the same rate as the GDP index until the mid-1970s, drops slightly for two years, rises again until 1979, when it drops for the next several years.  In the early 1980s the energy line starts to rise again but
2004.  A third line representing energy/GDP drops fairly steadily from nearly 1.6 in 1949 to about 0.7 in 2004, except for two slight rises of about 0.1 each in 1956 and 1970.  A fourth line representing Intensity Index begins in 1985 at 1.0, remains close to 1.0 for five years, then has a gradual drop, reaching 0.9 in 2004. A chart plots two lines representing Total Energy (4 sectors) and Delivered Energy (5 sectors) from 1985 to 2004.  An intensity index, with 1985 equal to 1.0, is plotted on the vertical axis; years are plotted on the horizontal axis.  Total Energy drops from 1.0 in 1985 to just below 0.90 in 2004, with Total Energy rising slightly in some years, but the overall trend moving downward.  Delivered Energy drops from 1.0 in 1985 to 0.88 in 2004.  From 1985 through 1988, the lines show Total Energy slightly lower than Delivered Energy.  Beginning in 1989, the two lines track each other closely, Total Energy roughly 0.2 higher than Delivered Energy.

Energy efficiency is a vital part of the nation's energy strategy and has been since the first oil crisis in 1973. As part of a national priority for improving energy efficiency, the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) established a new national system of indicators to track changes in the energy intensity of our economy and economic sectors over time.

This system of energy intensity indicators can:

  • show us how the intensity of energy use and its components are changing
  • help raise public awareness about how and why energy intensity has changed over the years
  • compliment other provided inputs to policy and program analyses, including improved understanding of the impact of program and policy choices on energy intensity, such as supplementing energy demand forecasting or assessments of a program's influence on energy intensity changes
  • improve understanding of the role of efficiency improvements in our changing energy markets

The purpose of this site is to provide the public with information on energy intensity indicators that can be used to consistently track changes in U.S. energy intensity over time.

This new system of energy intensity indicators provides:

  1. Indices of energy intensity trends from 1985 to 2004 that correspond to changes in the efficiency of energy use, to the closest extent possible
  2. Energy intensity, total energy use, and activity measures at the economy-wide level, sector level (transportation, industrial, residential buildings, and commercial buildings), and at even more disaggregated levels, where data permit
  3. Delivered energy use, energy intensity, and activity measures at the economy-wide level and for five sectors (the four end-use sectors and electricity generation)