Few Americans know how the U.S. consumes and produces energy

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Most Americans don’t know how much the U.S. relies on petroleum for its energy needs, despite soaring prices dominating the headlines, according to a poll from Texas electricity provider Payless Power that was first shared with The Washington Times.

The survey’s findings show that less than 1 in 4 (23%) Americans know petroleum — which includes crude oil and is used for things like gasoline, heating and electricity — is the primary source of energy consumed in the U.S. Just 34% know that natural gas is the primary energy type produced.

U.S. energy consumption consists of petroleum (36%), natural gas (32%), renewable energy (12%), coal (11%) and nuclear power (8%), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Natural gas leads production at 36%, followed by petroleum at 31%, renewables at 13%, coal at 12% and nuclear at 8%.

A plurality of survey respondents (44%) said they would prefer solar as the main source of power, compared to 25% who said nuclear, 9% who said wind, and 22% who cited other sources.

Political affiliation and gender play large roles in which energy source Americans say is the most appealing. Democrats primarily opt for solar, while Republicans prefer nuclear.


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A majority of Democrats (51%) say solar power is their top pick, followed by 21% who favor nuclear power. Republicans prefer nuclear (34%) and solar (29%).

Women tend to prefer solar as a main power source, while more men say nuclear.

When it came to identifying which products are made from oil and natural gas, those who answered correctly included 78% for building and construction materials, 73% for household cleaning supplies, 65% for personal care and cosmetics, 59% for sports and outdoor gear, and 59% for electronics. One in 10 Americans said they were unaware that any of those products were produced from fossil fuels. 

The poll was conducted among 1,007 Americans and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

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