10 Graphs That Explain Why You Should Use Solar

From electric vehicles to solar panels, clean energy is gaining traction around the world. These technologies help reduce CO2 emissions and other environmental impacts that damage human health and the planet. In many cases, they are also more cost effective in the long term, eventually paying for themselves entirely and then saving the owner money in fuel costs. The following graphs visualize the current state of the energy industry in the United States and might just convince you to go green.

1. The direct use of fossil fuels and their use in electricity generation contribute significantly to U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

The use of fossil fuels as an energy source constitutes the release of hundreds of millions of metric tons of CO2 into their air each year. The most populous states are the largest overall emitters, however the states with the largest release per capita are those that use a large share of coal in their electricity generation.

Bar graphs showing the top 10 states for the amount of energy-related carbon dioxide released per state overall and the amount of carbon dioxide released per state per capita.

2. All fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide, but coal is the worst.

Various types of fossil fuels are used in energy production. When burned, they release different amounts of CO2. All types of coal emit the most CO2, followed by diesel, oil and gasoline. Propane and natural gas are relatively the cleanest burning fossil fuels.

Chart showing various types of fossil fuels and the amount of CO2 they release per million British thermal units.

3. Increasing the share of non-carbon fuel sources reduces carbon dioxide emissions.

The development and implementation of clean energy technologies has helped to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions produced in electricity generation. U.S. demand for electricity remained relative stable, however, the reduction of coal and increase in clean energies to generate that electricity has allowed for lowered emissions in production of approximately the same amount of electricity. Notably, the use of solar and wind increased significantly, while hydro and nuclear remained about the same.

Bar graph showing the amount of kilowatthours produced in 2005 and 2017, the types of fuels used to produce those energies and the resulting amount of CO2 released.

4. Of all the energy consumed in the United States, 38% is used in buildings.

The United States is powered by an energy mix including petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear and renewable energy, the same sources which are used to generate electricity. This energy powers various sectors. The industrial sector, which uses the most energy, includes manufacturing, agriculture, construction and mining. Transportation includes personal and commercial vehicles ranging from motorcycles to aircraft and ships. The residential sector is comprised of single-family homes and multifamily buildings, and the commercial sector includes all public and private places of business including hospitals, stores, schools and offices.

A pie chart showing total US energy consumption broken into industrial, transportation, residential and commercial sectors.

5. State governments are adopting building energy codes based on international standards.

Most states throughout the country have implemented building energy codes to increase energy efficiency and reduce the amount of emissions produced by residential and commercial buildings. These codes are informed by International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). States that base their standards on more recent versions of the IECC are the most energy efficient. Many suspect that codes will eventually be standardized federally, and consider the state-level changes a way to get a jump start on the latest building trends.

A US map color coded to show residential energy-efficiency building codes by state.
A US map color coded to show commercial energy-efficiency building codes by state.

6. U.S. homes spend more energy on heating than any other use.

The Residential Energy Consumption Survey measures how much energy US homes consume and the ways in which they use it. Space heating, by far, is the largest consumer of residential energy accounting for 43% of total energy, followed by water heating, which accounts for an additional 19%. These two activities are sometimes powered by electricity, but largely occur through direct consumption of natural gas, propane and oil.

A bar graph showing different types of fuels used in US households and the systems and appliances they are used for.

7. The number of people living in a residence has a significant impact on the amount of energy used for water heating.

The number of people residing in a household has a large impact on the amount of energy used in the home, especially when it comes to water heating. Space heating and air conditioning energy use remain relatively stable regardless of the number of occupants due to the fact that the same temperature is considered comfortable regardless of the number of people in the home. However, water heating energy increases significantly with each additional occupant, presumably to account for added use of the shower, washing machine and dishwasher.

Three bar graphs showing the amount of energy used in US households on space heating, water heating and air conditioning accounting for 1-6 occupants in the household.

8.  Homes in different regions heat with different fuels.

The types of energy used for heating varies by geographic region. Electricity is most common in the South, where mild winters require relatively little heating. In cooler regions, natural gas is the most used fuel. The Northeast uses an especially high rate of oil.

A rectangle graphic showing the number of heated homes per US region further broken down into shares according to the most-used heating fuel.

9. Heating costs American households thousands of dollars in the winter alone.

Heating costs are dictated by the weather throughout the season and the type of fuel used in the heating system. Additionally, economic and political factors can influence the cost of a given fuel within the season. Average household heating costs exceed $3000 for the winter season alone, without accounting for spring and fall heating or water heating year-round.

A bar graph that shows average annual household winter heating spending for various heating fuels during winters from 2011 through (projected) 2018.

10. INroof solar metal roofing can significantly reduce your heating costs every year.

INroof.solar roofing integrates solar thermal panels into standing seam metal roofing. This gives you the look and performance of standing seam metal roofing plus the benefits of solar thermal collectors in one high-performing system. The thermal energy collected from your rooftop is used to power water heating and/or space heating systems within the building, reducing your use of expensive and polluting fossil fuels. Data from the winter/spring of 2019 shows how using an INroof system compares to the costs of other heating fuels.

A bar graph showing the costs of different heating fuels and how they compare to using an INroof.solar heating system.

Making your home or business more energy efficient is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to reduce your carbon footprint and save money. Visit www.INroof.solar to learn how an INroof system can give you the look you want and the energy you need.

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