U.S. Economy has Doubled its Overall Energy Efficiency

The chart below shows the increasing energy efficiency of the U.S. economy, using data from the Energy Information Administration, updated recently through 2008. As recently as 1970, it required 18,000 BTUs of energy for each real dollar of GDP produced, and by 2008 the energy required per dollar of real GDP has been reduced by more than 50%, to only 8,520 BTUs per real dollar of GDP. So the U.S. economy has more than doubled its overall energy efficiency in only 38 years.

Bottom Line: The U.S. economy has never been more energy efficient than it is today, and it just keeps getting more and more efficient every year as we find ways to produce more and more output with less and less energy. Amid all of the gloom and doom, this seems like something to celebrate. Over time, we’re not becoming energy gluttons, we’re actually becoming energy misers.

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About Mark J. Perry 262 Articles

Affiliation: University of Michigan

Dr. Mark J. Perry is a professor of economics and finance in the School of Management at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan.

He holds two graduate degrees in economics (M.A. and Ph.D.) from George Mason University in Washington, D.C. and an MBA degree in finance from the Curtis L. Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

Since 1997, Professor Perry has been a member of the Board of Scholars for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a nonpartisan research and public policy institute in Michigan.

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