The reduction in oil prices might make crude oil a cheaper alternative to renewable energy. Given this, the present paper examines the effect of fluctuation of oil prices on the use of renewable energy in the United States during the period 1970–2019. We constructed two nonlinear Autoregressive Distributed Lag (NARDL) models to examine the effect of the positive and negative oil prices shocks on the use of renewable energy in the US. The renewable energy consumption is taken as the dependent variable and GDP, Brent crude prices, population density, trade openness and price index as independent variables. The result revealed that the rise in crude oil price, GDP and population density will increase renewable energy use in the short run and in the long run as well. Moreover, the study finds that any decrease in oil prices will decrease renewable energy use in the short run and its effect will eventually diminish in the long run.