Table F.2 converts the energy use of cars, homes, and power plants to “primary energy” (also referred to as source energy). Thus, the primary energy associated with electricity production includes the energy burned at the power plant, not just the 30 percent delivered to the home.

Of the three conversion tables, Table F.2 would suffice for most purposes. As explained below, Tables F.3 and F.4 give slightly different conversions. Both cost to the customer and air pollution (nitrogen oxide [NOx] and CO2 emissions from combustion, as well as sulfur oxide [SOx] emissions from coal combustion)

TABLE F.2 Energy Used Annually by a Typical Car and Home and Generated by a Typical 500 Megawatt Power Plant


A Typical Annual Use (rounded)

B Conversion to Btua

C Annual Energy Use (Btu)b

D Energy Use in Units of 1 Million Cars

Passenger cars, vans, sport utility vehicles, light trucks—U.S. stock (private and commercial): 247 millionc





1 typical car

500 gald

1 gal = 125,000 Btu

62.5 million

1 million typical cars

500 million gal

1 gal = 125,000 Btu

62.5 trillion


Homes—U.S. stock: 111 millione





1 typical home (electricity + gas/oil)

200 million Btu

200 million

1 million typical homes

200 trillion Btu

200 trillion


Power plants—U.S. stock: 3,300 TWhf 1,320 plants (½ GW)





Typical power plant (½ GW × 5,000 hours per year)

2.5 TWh

1 kWh = 10,500 Btug

26.2 trillion



bFor metric units (e.g., kWh) the metric prefix is used; for Btu, the “value” multiplier is used, as shown in Table F.1, “Metric Prefixes.”

cData from Table 1-11: Number of U.S. Aircraft, Vehicles, Vessels, and Other Conveyances, available at

dData from Table MF21 (for motor fuel use) and Table MV1 and MV9 (for private and commercial auto stock) in Highway Statistics 1998, available at Table 1.10 for average annual miles in Monthly Energy Review, DOE/EIA-0035(2000-04), April 2000.

eData from Residential Energy Consumption Survey, available at

fData from Table 7.5 in Monthly Energy Review, DOE/EIA-0035(2000-04), April 2000.

gSee Tables 2.6 and 7.5 in Monthly Energy Review, DOE/EIA-0035(2000-04), April 2000. In 1999, the U.S. electric grid consumed 34.5 quads of source energy to generate and sell 3,300 TWh of electricity. This yields a “heat rate” of 10,500 Btu/kWh.

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