The consumption of energy inputs in agricultural production has been increasing rapidly during the past decades. However, given the limitations and costs of non-renewable energy, increasing production while using the least energy possible has become a major concern of most nations. Prompted by this concern, we conducted a face-to-face survey of 90 farming households in Thai Nguyen Province, Vietnam, to find out how energy is being used in agriculture and, specifically, in their rice production. Through analysis of energy input–output balances, combined with economic efficiency analysis, a comparison was made of conventional and SRI methods of rice production. The study found that applying the SRI method can save around 23% of energy inputs, while increasing energy outputs by 11%. Economic benefits per hectare also rise by more than 8 million dong (USD 364) compared to those under the conventional cultivation system. The study also showed conflicts between the energy and economic balances for manual compared with machine ploughing operations. This study contributes to providing an overview of energy consumption in rice cultivation at the household level. Its findings can help stakeholders to assess current policies and make better decisions on the uses of energy in agricultural production. In addition, the comprehensive approach taken here to analysing energy use and efficiency could expand the analysis and comparison of energy uses at sectoral or activity level—still a new field in Vietnam and many other countries.