WalletHub recently released a report about the most and least energy efficient states in America. Some might guess the most efficient one is California, but according to WalletHub’s analysis, New York is in the top slot. California was number 6, just below Vermont, and in the 48th position was South Carolina. (Alaska and Hawaii were not included.) If you live in the US, how did your state do?
Energy efficiency may typically be thought of at the ground level, like home or office efficiency, so these kinds of high-level analyses can be very interesting in terms of what they reveal about larger trends. WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez answered some questions about the report for CleanTechnica.
What data sources did you use?
The data we used to create the ranking comes from reputable sources such as the Census Bureau, the National Climatic Data Center, and the Energy Information Administration. You can find the full list of sources at the end of the methodology, here.
What were some key metrics you looked at?
To determine energy efficiency in each of the states, we looked at home and auto energy efficiency. Home energy efficiency was calculated as the total residential energy consumption per capita divided by the number of annual degree days. A degree day is when the temperature outside is either above or below a reference value and implicitly requires cooling or heating the home. For auto energy efficiency, we looked at the annual vehicle miles driven and the gallons of gasoline consumed.
What are some of the most striking insights?
One of the most striking things is the estimation that adopting energy efficient measures within the household could save Americans 25% on utilities. This is the main reason that prompted our report. We wanted to gauge the impact of doing more with less energy, especially at a time when temperatures are increasing.
What typically drives energy efficiency at the state level?
At state level, energy efficiency is driven by low residential energy consumption, as well as less driven miles. For homeowners, energy efficient upgrades are an important way to reduce consumption. When it comes to auto energy efficiency, choosing public transportation instead of a personal vehicle helps increase energy efficiency in each state.
Is there any way to show a correlation between public environmental awareness and energy efficiency in a state?
While we did not specifically look into correlating these two things, it makes sense that environmental awareness would have a positive impact on energy efficiency. This is because environmental awareness typically determines the existence of policies that encourage the use of alternative energy sources that improve the overall consumption efficiency.
How much do local politics factor into a state’s energy efficiency?
Local authorities definitely play an important role in a state’s energy efficiency. This happens because they have the ability to incentivize both consumers and businesses to invest in and implement different energy efficient projects.
Is there a relationship between a state’s energy efficiency and jobs — like solar, wind, energy storage, EVs, and so forth?
We don’t have specific research in regards to that, but any type of project aimed at improving energy efficiency has the potential to generate new jobs. Whether it’s solar power, wind power or something else, the existence of alternative energy sources can attract more businesses to the state and create new employment opportunities.
How can the least energy efficient states improve?
The least energy efficient states should look into ways of increasing home energy efficiency. This can be done through insulation upgrades, air sealing strategies, and other energy efficient installations.
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