Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose by 2.8 percent last year in the U.S., posting the largest increase since 2010, according to the country's Energy Information Administration (EIA).
"Weather conditions and continued economic growth were the primary factors in increasing energy consumption and emissions in 2018," the EIA said in a statement on Monday.
"The winter months of 2018 were also colder than the previous ten-year average, and heating degree days, an indicator of heating demand, were the highest since 2014," it added.
CO2 emissions from natural gas drove most of the overall increase last year, which rose by nearly 10 percent.
The EIA said total U.S. energy consumption in 2018 is expected to be just 0.4 percent below the record set in 2007, according to its preliminary data.
"These temperature patterns led to what the EIA estimates were record levels of electricity consumption and natural gas consumption in 2018," the statement said.
"Electricity is used to meet virtually all air conditioning demand, and natural gas and electricity are the two most common heating fuels," it added.
The administration said it expects energy-related CO2 emissions to decrease in 2019 and 2020.
"Both 2019 and 2020 are expected to have milder weather than 2018, resulting in fewer milder winters and fewer milder summers and, consequently, less energy consumption," it said.
However, even with declines in emissions over the next two years, energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 and 2020 are still anticipated to be higher than 2017 levels, it added.
The EIA said economic factors also affect energy consumption and emissions.
According to the administration, GDP growth in the U.S. is anticipated to slow to 2.7 percent in 2019, and decline to 2 percent in 2020, from 2.9 percent in 2018.
It added that industrial production, which is more energy-intensive compared to other sectors in the economy, is expected to grow faster than GDP in 2019 but slower than GDP in 2020.
"Slower growth in industrial production in 2020 would reduce the energy and carbon intensity associated with GDP growth," the statement said.
By Ovunc Kutlu