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.