Definition of Commercial Energy

Commercial energy is power used by commercial entities, as opposed to residential, industrial, or transportation energy. Businesses like retail stores or auto dealerships are examples of commercial energy end users served by power utilities.

Energy Sources

No matter the method of energy production, whether it is a fossil fuel, nuclear or renewable source, any form used by a commercial structure constitutes commercial energy.

Commercial Energy in the U.S.

According to a Department of Energy (DOE) report on energy use in the United States, commercial energy use rose steadily from 1950 to 2000, from less than five quadrillion Btu (British thermal units) to about 15 quadrillion Btu.

Changes in Sources

When examining coal, petroleum, natural gas and electricity, the DOE report also indicated that coal usage for commercial and residential energy declined during the same time period while petroleum declined significantly, starting in the 1970s. Electricity use rose sharply in the latter half of the 20th century, while natural gas also rose from 1950 to 2000.

Sustainability Efforts

Retrofitting of aging structures and incorporating sustainable design into new construction are ways businesses can minimize their environmental impact, lessen America’s dependency on foreign power sources and lower energy costs. The U.S. Green Building Council is one organization working to advance the cause of sustainable building design.

The future

As energy exploration and production companies work to tap into more domestic fossil fuel supplies, many businesses are employing technologies to oversee energy use even tools as simple as automatic lighting. Some are investing in on-site renewable generation, as Price Chopper announced in January 2010 at its Colonie store in Albany, NY.


About the Author

A 1999 graduate of Clark University, Eric Slack has written extensively on many subjects including health care, energy, technology, sports, music, hospitality and the retail industry. His magazine and online writing experience includes "Inside Healthcare," "Energy Today,", Freekick, and Retail Merchandiser.