Energy service

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Energy services are the tasks performed using energy.[1] Such services include:

  • Electrical:
  • lighting
  • long distance communication (like phone calls, email, or even sending letters)

These can all be achieved using their corresponding energy service technologies. All energy sectors require differing amounts of energy to accomplish their services: visit energy use by sector for a detailed breakdown.

Figure 1. A diagram of how energy makes its way from the sun into the energy services used everyday. Energy currencies like electricity and gasoline are a critical step.[2] Without the currency stage, the primary energy wouldn't be able to be turned into the energy service.

The majority of modern services demand energy in the form of electricity, however gasoline and natural gas also accomplish extremely useful tasks like driving and heating. These forms of energy are called energy currencies, because they are the actual forms of energy used by people. Seen in Figure 1 below is the flow of energy from its origin to its capture, transformation, and end use.

A specific energy service such as lighting may be supplied by a number of different means, from incandescent light bulbs to kerosene lanterns to light emitting diode devices. The amount of energy used to provide a service may vary over a factor of 10 or more, and the corresponding greenhouse gas emissions may vary from zero to a very high value depending on the source of energy and the type of end-use device.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Verbruggen, A., W. Moomaw, J. Nyboer, 2011: Annex I: Glossary, Acronyms, Chemical Symbols and Prefixes. In IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation [O. Edenhofer, R. Pichs- Madruga, Y. Sokona, K. Seyboth, P. Matschoss, S. Kadner, T. Zwickel, P. Eickemeier, G. Hansen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow (eds)], Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
  2. This drawing was made by Xining Chen for this website in August 2014 and is used with her permission.

Authors and Editors

Ethan Boechler, Jordan Hanania, Kailyn Stenhouse, Jason Donev
Last updated: September 27, 2021
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