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By all accounts, the U.S. is putting its surging natural gas stockpiles to good use.
The Energy Information Administration recently compiled data showing who exactly is using nat gas, and how much. The world's largest economy consumed more than 26 trillion cubic feet of the energy source last year, a modest 2 percent rise from the year prior. That represents more than 71 billion cubic feet worth of gas that gets used in the average day.
However, the data get more interesting when the EIA peels back the layers of where that fuel is going. Utilities comprise the lion's share of domestic use. Power companies consumed 8.1 trillion cf last year as nat gas continues to eat into coal's market share in power generation—helping to explain why natural gas prices spiked over the winter.
Industrials such as chemical- and plastic- makers swallowed about 7.5 trillion cubic feet in 2013, while residential use rose to 4.9 trillion during the year.
Most striking is the negligible use of nat gas in vehicles. Although retail gasoline prices remain uncomfortably high, natural gas-powered cars, buses and trucks are still few and far between. Automobiles used less than 33 billion cubic feet last year—an amount so marginal it didn't even register on the EIA's graphic.
—By CNBC's Javier E. David.