California Ranks Among Lowest Per-Capita Energy Users In The US

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California ranks among the lowest in the US with regard to per-capita energy consumption and per-capita energy spending (4th lowest in both), according to a new report from Beacon Economics.

Despite this, owing to its population, the state still ranks as the second-largest energy consumer in the US — behind only Texas.

Painted California flag

“Californians are among the most efficient energy users in the nation on a per-capita basis,” stated F Noel Perry, founder of the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization Next 10 — which commissioned the new report (“California Energy: Comparing Production, Consumption & Spending in all 50 States”).

The press release provides more:

The report finds that California uses a lot of energy because it has the largest population and the largest economy of any state in the nation. California ranks near the top in commercial, residential, industrial, and transportation energy consumption, and expenditures.

But at the same time, per capita energy consumption remains low in California. The report finds this is due to a legacy of innovative public policies that encourage energy efficiency, along with energy rates that are higher than the national average.

It’s an obvious point to make here, but it should be stated anyways: one of the main reasons that California ranks so lowly with regard to per-capita energy use is also that most of the state is incredibly mild compared to most of the rest of the country.

Heating and cooling makes up a substantial portion of the per-capita energy use of those living in the Midwest, Northeast, and Deep South. Running heaters and air conditioners constantly to avoid discomfort (as many Americans now do) uses a substantial amount of energy.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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27 thoughts on “California Ranks Among Lowest Per-Capita Energy Users In The US

  • I would dispute that the climate is so mild. Much of the state doesn’t enjoy the coastal marine influence, and suffers from long baking summers. That leads to very substantial demand for cooling. During the summer season a rule of thumb is you gain a degree F for ever mile from the ocean.

    • Hallelujah lol
      Baking in Bakersfield xD

      • Anything central valley -especially the north and south ends of it.
        Also many of the inland valleys around LA and SF area.

        • Absolutely. The heat packs into the Valley cul de sacs. The center (Sac/Stockton) area gets some late afternoon relief when the wind starts howling through the Altamont Pass.

    • I’m personally planning on moving to Malibu to lower my energy usage.

      You know, for the Earth.

      • But holy crap….the traffic. I wouldn’t do it. Cut out meat first. Then if you’re still not happy with your ’emissions’, move to ventura 🙂

        • What traffic?

          Move to the Malibu beach. Have everything delivered….

          • Sorry Bob. It’s not delivery, it’s Digiorno 😛

      • I think you meant: for like the Earth & stuff.

    • The thing about the heat in much of the state here (I live in the what is probably second hottest part, the Mojave, the 1st being Death Valley), is that it’s a dry heat during the summer, which makes a swamp cooler ideal over a standard energy sucking AC unit (about 1/3 the running cost of an AC, and often 1/3 or less of the up front cost), plus it gets cool enough at night to where you often don’t need to run it.

      Winter weather is so mild you can walk in shorts and a t-shirt most of the time, so heating often isn’t necessary while cooling is natural. Dry heat heat also isn’t nearly as uncomfortable as humid heat.

      Another thing is I think we have the most homeless in the U.S., people who don’t even have an electric bill.

      My electric and gas bills run about $25 each throughout the year while I remain in perfect comfort usually between 67.5 F while sleeping and 77 F while awake.

  • Probably still a lot more than Europeans use per capita.

    • I am thinking a lot of heat is lost via the exhaust fans in bathrooms.

      • I’m not sure what that has to do with my comment.

        • Most of the energy used by a house is for heating.

    • What’s the per capital usage in europe? I’m in Switzerland now…curious to hear/see the delta especially given the not so friendly climates out here. Maybe it’s fully offset with burning all the wood they cutdown here for heat. Hmm…

  • If you include transportation fuel as energy, the picture changes.

  • The state has had efficiency measures for building codes in place for decades and essentially decoupled economic growth from energy growth beginning in the 1980s I believe. I’m trying to find one of the excellent time series showing tight coupling of california’s energy consumption with GDP growth from early 1900s through 1980s and then energy consumption has held flat, but GDP (and population) growth have never stopped growing. To another commenters point, this may be electricity, not all, not sure. Point is performance-based governance and requirements for buildings and other things over decades has had a huge effect.

    If anyone else can find one of those graphs, please feel free to post.

  • I am not surprised, California has been a green initiative pioneer/leader for some time now. California also has one of the cleanest energy mixes! I hope I can visit soon, its on the short list! =)

    • Come on out, the weather is fine (but warming). #thanksclimatechange #shouldthisbeanewthing? #whatthehashtag

  • You are of course concealing the queues for bread and soup by the army of unemployed thrown out of work by California’s hippie socialist policies, the exodus for Kansas of high-tech firms smarting at confiscatory taxation, and the impending financial collapse of the state government.

    • If you would have tied it back to legalizing marijuana in colorado, I would have been behind you but without that, I have to wonder…

  • Would have been nice to include some numbers (avg Kwh per spft, etc) in the article.

  • I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the graduated electricity rates, which ramp up the marginal $/kWh rapidly, putting a lid on most people’s consumption. It’s been quite effective, and something the rest of the country could learn from.

    It’s also a reason why big houses consuming lots of electricity benefit disproportionately from net metering…

  • (snark, Dave)

    • Farmer_Dave’s sarcasm detector appears to have malfunctioned.

      Mine does that sometimes…

  • Key take away is that CA also has lowest per capita energy spending. Utility customers are BILL PAYERS, not RATE PAYERS. Somewhat higher rates when used to provide better access to energy efficiency and distribute generation is a great deal if it leads to lower over all bills.

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