Energy-Efficient States: Where Does Yours Rank?

Energy efficiency is not only a hot trend in the quest for a greener planet; it is serving as one of the go-to methods of local, state, and federal governments to reduce energy costs.

WalletHub just released its findings for the most and least energy-efficient states of 2014. Ranking only the lower 48 (Alaska and Hawaii were left out due to data limitations), the site analyzed the states by home-related energy efficiency and car-related energy efficiency. WalletHub states, “We obtained the former by calculating the ratio between the total residential energy consumption and annual degree days. For the latter, we divided the annual vehicle miles driven by the gallons of gasoline consumed. Each dimension was weighted proportionally to reflect national consumption patterns.”

Unsurprisingly, the top five states are Democratic and the bottom five states are Republican. Vermont, New York, Wisconsin, California, and Rhode Island lead the pack, while Arkansas, Texas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and South Carolina are embarrassing themselves. Democratic governments tend to push cleaner energy practices such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power, whereas Republican-governed states predominantly encourage the use of fossil fuels. The issues of energy efficiency and job creation generally run along party lines.

The interactive map below shows a color-coded gradation of top to bottom energy-efficient states, based on WalletHub’s research.


Ask the Experts

WalletHub also asked seven energy experts the following questions about how consumers and governments can reduce their energy consumption. They are…

How should consumers identify the energy-efficient projects that will give them the highest ROI?

Answers to this question ranged from simple projects like working with utilities to implement incentive-laden energy efficiency programs, to more labor-intensive projects like retrofitting homes or businesses with more insulation, updated lighting, and new heating and cooling systems.

What is the biggest hurdle that consumers face when it comes to investing in the improvement of energy efficiency?

Cost is certainly a predominant factor. People can’t, or think they can’t, afford a new thermostat or a high-efficiency furnace despite the long-term benefits, and they would rather save their money now. However, the biggest concern from the experts is lack of information. People might be willing to upgrade and make improvements, but they might not be aware of how or where to properly install a new thermostat or how to update a light fixture. Further hampering these efforts is the uncertainty with return on investment (ROI); “How will this help me?”

Should the government create programs that incentivize consumers and businesses to invest in energy-efficient projects? If so, what are the most effective incentives?

Governmental incentives such as tax credits and rebates could break down barriers like aversion towards new technologies and fear of financial loss from updating homes and businesses. Additionally, clear and concise information about the benefits of these programs is essential to sway hesitant people.

What tips can you provide for building an energy-efficient home on a budget?

The experts agree that finding a builder whose forte is energy-efficient homes is the only way to go. Do-it-yourself jobs or hiring a contractor who isn’t aware of new tricks and green technologies will only put you behind the eight ball. Doing it right the first time is imperative for ongoing success.

Is your state energy efficient?

So, where does your state rank? Is its government leading by example and doing enough to inspire citizens and businesses to reduce energy consumption? There are a myriad of ways to reduce your carbon footprint and maximize energy costs. Energy efficiency is projected to be the next big thing over the upcoming ten years in the energy industry. Good information and proven results are going to be the impetus for energy efficiency to work, helping to drive your state to a higher ranking next year.



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  • naaupono1

    Hawaii has been a “Democrat” state for over 45 years and is terribly dependent on fossil fuels because the politicians and their cohorts in government, utilities, shipping, transportation, businesses….. (County, State, and Federal government, Hawaiian Electric, Matson, Young Brothers, Hawaiian Airlines, Hawaiian Telcom, Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank, etc.) are enjoying their profit margins.

    • Wayne Kovach

      The article I cited states that Hawaii was not included due to data
      limitations. Your comments are interesting as I didn’t know Hawaii was
      like that. I mentioned that energy choices generally run along party
      lines, but clearly there are always exceptions to the rule.

      My colleague recently wrote about Hawaii researching wave energy ( http://www.yourenergyblog.com/hawaiian-wave-power-project-making-a-splash/ ). Hopefully projects like these will reduce the state’s dependency on fossil fuels and help drive them towards cleaner sources.

      Thanks for commenting.

  • http://www.roughdesigns.com Russell Higgins AIA

    Nice metrics, great start, get back to me in a few years when you’ve gone past the brainstorming stage.
    Great party chatter for now.
    Love the idea though, just keep larding on metrics and this will be a go to site!
    Degree days? NYS varies by 100% S to N. I’m sure others are the same. Was DD weighted by number of houses in each DD zone, how many zones?
    Gas mileage, good metric I guess.
    Mass transit? NYS has 10% of it’s people using mass transit daily, more than any other state.
    NYS electrical line losses are unusually low.
    CA is running out of water.
    Texas generates more wind energy than any other state.
    LA continues to let energy cos. destroy the delta wetlands.
    NYS has more state park land per capita than, anyone I think.
    TVA area has huge hydro resources not accounted for.