American energy use, in one diagram

Spring brings new growth, new possibilities, and, best of all, a new spaghetti diagram from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) at the Department of Energy.

Every year, LLNL produces a new energy flow chart showing the sources of US energy, what it’s used for, and how much of it is wasted. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s a bit of a mind-blower.

So much information in so little space! (It’s worth zooming in on a larger version.)

Before digging through a few of the more interesting details, let’s get terminology out of the way. LLNL measures US energy consumption in “quads.” What’s a quad?

Well, a British thermal unit (BTU) is a standard unit of energy — the heat required to raise the temperature of a pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. If you prefer the metric system, a BTU is about 1055 joules of energy.

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