The Most Energy Efficient States In The Nation

A new report details which state governments are doing the most to be energy efficient. Hey, Alabama's not such a fuel-guzzling planet-killer anymore!

Energy efficiency--it's all the rage these days. From CFL light bulbs to Energy Star fridges, it's easy to try to reduce your personal energy consumption. But those advances stem, in large part, from regulations and subsidies from local, state, and federal governments. At the state level, there's a tremendous differences in how those regs and dollars hare doled out. 

A new study from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranks all 50 states in terms of how energy-efficient friendly their policies are. These metrics include how much the state is doing to increase efficient transportation, building, and power production, as well as the standards it enforces on appliances and the programs it has in place to help citizens be more efficient.

Unlike electric car adoption, which hews to a strict red state/blue state divide, the efficient states are spread more evenly across the country (Idaho is just as efficient as Pennsylvania). Still, the states one would expect to be efficient are: Massachusetts leads the pack, with California, New York, Oregon, and Vermont all in the top 10.

But this entirely predictable gallery of eco-friendly states may soon have competition, as budget shortfalls make everyone start looking hard at ways to save. Alabama--ranked 49th last year--was one of the most improved states, rising to 43rd place. Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Maryland, and Tennessee also made huge strides, by doing things like improving building codes, investing in solar, and offering incentives to buy more efficient vehicles. Hopefully, for everyone's sake, the battle for most efficient state is just starting to heat up.

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8 Comments

  • J P Parry

    That fact that Hawaii in not in last place tells me that a fair amount of these rankings must concern policy.  Hawaii has a State government centered policy to get green and become my energy efficient, however the rate of solar adoption has been severely curtailed because Hawaiian Electric Company is calling all the shots. Hawaii definitely ranks last on how power is produced, about 85% or more of the power on the electric grid is generated using imported diesel fuel.  However it is true that the average resident of Hawaii uses very little energy in the way of climate control so people use less energy per person but this is strictly due to the mild climate not due to energy efficiency.  From what I know about some of the other states use of power I would not put a lot of faith in these rankings.  Also notice how the states in which there is Oil and Gas hydrocarbon production leading the economy there is a very low ranking ie Oklahoma.  So are these rankings just a scorecard of the State Legislatures?  We really should try to separate policy and politics from the realities when pointing at who is doing well and who is doing poorly in the new economy.  JP

  • David Kaiser, PhD

    I agree that it would be nice to see more data, instead of just a ranking. Rankings based on policies can be opinion, perhaps good, informed opinion, but still subject to the authors' politics and biases. It would be great to see energy consumption per capita or electricity or carbon use per capita or something like that.  

    David Kaiser, PhDExecutive Coach & CEO
    www.DarkMatterConsulting.com

  • David Kaiser, PhD

    I agree that it would be nice to see more data, instead of just a ranking. Rankings based on policies can be opinion, perhaps good, informed opinion, but still subject to the authors' politics and biases. It would be great to see energy consumption per capita or electricity or carbon use per capita or something like that.  

    David Kaiser, PhDExecutive Coach & CEOwww.DarkMatterConsulting.co..

  • Greg

    I think this data set isn't very interesting as a stand alone visualization.  Much more interesting would be actual energy usage both as a total and per capita as others have pointed out.  What would be VERY interesting is to combine both data sets to see if policy has any correlation with energy usage.  I would also like to see the same set with heating/cooling removed to take geography out of the set.

    I'm from Mississippi (ranked 49th above) and I can say that we have no policies that I'm aware of to reduce energy consumption but I also think we're a very frugal state out of necessity.  I graduated high school less than 20 years ago and my school didn't have air conditioning and seldom needed heating.  I grew up in a house without air conditioning and heated by one wood fire place.  I know wood fire places aren't very efficient but it really only kept most of the house from freezing and the median temp of the entire house was probably 50F.  I didn't consider my family poor growing up so I think my experiences are typical if not above average energy usage.

  • KPR

    Policies are one thing but what about actual data? As a person living in CA, I feel like I'm constantly hearing about how much water the state is sucking out of Lake Meade, water shortages, smog levels in LA. I'll take this little map with a grain of salt. Policies and actual statistics are two very separate things at this point. 

  • Ross P

    Well, LA is an entirely different kind of beast compared to say, the Bay Area. I imagine SoCal probably drags down California's score as a whole... but who knows? Could be wrong.

  • evan

    How energy-efficient friendly the their policies are sounds quite vague to me. I would like to see an study on how energy-effcient states actually are. And preferably one not conducted by a lobbyist organization. Which you failed to mention.