How do we use energy?

We use a lot of energy to and our homes. We burn fuel in our furnaces or boilers for heat. We also burn fuel to heat water for our baths and showers. Large utility companies use energy to make electricity. These companies usually burn fossil fuels, such as coal, to make electricity. But burning fossil fuels causes pollution that damages our environment.

We use electricity to power our lights, TVs and radios, refrigerators and washing machines, air conditioners, and sometimes our stoves and clothes dryers.

We use energy to run our cars. Most cars use a form of oil called gasoline to make them run. Our cars can go a lot farther on a gallon of gasoline than they could 20 years ago. But now we drive more cars and drive them more often than we did 20 years ago!

Almost half the energy we use in the United States today helps make the everyday products we buy in stores. Factories use energy to make food, furniture, clothes, and toys. Factories also make paper, which we use a lot of every day. You use paper in school. And all your books are made from paper.

Some products are made of fossil fuels. For example, some plastics are made from oil. Most of the time, we use plastic products once and then throw them away.

Factories use a lot of energy to make packaging. Almost everything we buy comes in a package. For example, cereal comes in boxes made of cardboard, a kind of paper. In fact, about half of all the paper made in the United States is used for packaging.

Many soft drinks and fruit juices come in cans or bottles. It takes a lot of energy to make steel and aluminum cans and glass bottles.