The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) tracks Americans’ energy consumption on a monthly basis. In its most recent report for April, the EIA found that total energy consumption in the United States had fallen to a 30-year low. According to the EIA, the United States consumed 6.5 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) of energy in April 2020. This marked a 14 percent decrease from last year and is the lowest level of consumption since September 1989.
The decrease in energy consumption can be attributed to a significant drop in demand for petroleum. Petroleum consumption in the United States decreased by 27 percent from April 2019. Natural gas consumption, however, increased slightly, showing a 2 percent growth year-over-year.
The significant drop in petroleum demand and the overall decrease in total energy consumption is directly tied to COVID-19. As states implemented stay-at-home orders, fewer Americans hit the roads. With fewer people driving, the demand for petroleum dropped significantly. Meanwhile, with cooler temperatures in April and more Americans at home, residential heating increased, which in turn drove natural gas consumption up.
The EIA’s report for May will be released toward the end of August. It is unclear at this point if the trends from April continued or if energy consumption rebounded as more states began to ease restrictions.