Friday, July 6, 2012

Energy Hogs & Dieters: Ranking The States By Per Capita Energy Consumption

Are Floridians energy hogs or dieters?  How about Iowans?  Or Arizonans?  Ranking the states by per capita energy consumption produces a few surprises.

Floridians and Arizonans are among the 10 states with the lowest per capita energy consumption, while Iowans are among the top energy gulpers.  Residents of Wyoming and Rhode Island rank as the biggest and smallest consumers of energy respectively, according to the latest EIA data.

Indeed the typical resident of Wyoming uses more than 5 times as much energy as a resident of Rhode Island.  One consequence of heavy energy use is added vulnerability to periodic energy price shocks.  But what factors explain the huge disparity in the per capita energy consumption of those states using the most and least energy.

Plainly, one variable affecting energy consumption heavily is simple distance between places like work and home.  Another factor is the availability of public transportation.  New Yorkers rank second in using the least energy and the excellent public transportation in New York likely drives its ranking.

Weather, building codes, energy efficiency programs run by utilities also impact energy consumption and a state's ranking.

Here are the ten states whose residents use the most energy on a per capita basis:
1. Wyoming; 2. Alaska; 3. Louisiana; 4. North Dakota; 5. Iowa; 6. Texas; 7. South Dakota; 8. Nebraska; 9. Kentucky; 10. Indiana.

The ten states whose resident use the least energy are:

1. Rhode Island; 2. New York; 3. Hawaii; 4. California; 5. Connecticut; 6. Massachusetts; 7. Arizona; 8. New Hampshire; 9. Florida; 10. Vermont.

Pennsylvania is more sipper than gulper of energy, ranking 33rd on states that use the most energy and 17th on rankings for states that use the least.


  1. There is another factor: industrialization. Drive out industry and the consumption per capita drops.

    Also wealth - poorer people use less energy.

  2. I would suspect that most of the top 10 John lists as using the least energy (e.g., California, Hawaii, Vermont, Connecticut, Florida) are probably very wealthy compared to the national mean. Pennsylvania, by contrast, is probably of average wealth.

  3. I think that you are correct that industrialization and wealth are associated with higher consumption. But the list of lowest using states include some of the highest per capita wealth states like Connecticut, Massachusetts. Also Louisiana is among the poorest states per capita but uses a great deal. That could be partly the result of the chemical and refining industries being concentrated there. There are also a lot of very rural states among the highest per capita energy users...South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Iowa, North Dakota.

  4. Another factor is climate. Cold states (in the north) use more energy for heating. Warm states (Cal, Florida) use energy for air conditioning, but heating consumes more energy. (that accounts for the rural states mentioned above - they have harsh climate in winter)

  5. NYC has not just higher public transit but also very low residential energy usage - apartments there have smaller volumes to be heated or cooled and large buildings are better insulated overall. the same may apply to other more densely populated states in the NE. the average Iowan lives in a larger detached home, drives more and more likely to drive truck or an SUV vs the smaller sedans more prevalent in NE. You can cram all of them in Queens but then they will not be so kind and pleasant anymore... LoL

    also not all industry is created equal - heavy manufacturing ( mostly in Midwest and increasingly the South) is more energy intensive than the types of industry in the Bos-Wash corridor.

    overall I don't think this is a meaningful comparison. comparing categories - residential use, transportation use, industrial use may be more illuminating ( or correcting for these variables when comparing states).

  6. Weather, building codes, energy efficiency programs run by utilities also impact energy consumption and a state's ranking.

    You neglected to note that it takes energy to make energy.

    State energy hogs and dieters should be described in terms of net energy; production less consumption. Pennsylvania is a hog, Wyoming is a dieter.

    Production-Consumption Comparison Of course, the data is not in per capita terms.

    1. On a per capita basis, Pennsylvania produces a great deal of electricity but consumes below the national average. It ranks 33rd in per capita energy consumption. It is one of the least "hoggish" states in the nation if you use a ratio of per captia energy production to per capita energy consumption.

    2. I should have said on a per capita basis Pennsylvania produces a great deal of energy (I used electricity in the first comment) but consumes below the national average. Pennsylvania is among the national leaders in electricity production, often leading the states in electricity exports.

      My point still stands. Pennsylvania ranks 3rd in energy production, using 2011 data. Pennsylvania ranks 33rd in per capita energy consumption. It is among the least "hoggish" states.

  7. My anecdotal observation is that members of the "gulper" group tend to have significantly higher electricity rates, even though to a lesser degree those states tend to be geographically smaller (implying less transportation fuels burned). Of course, Florida (lower priced electricity) or California (car dominance, but highest fuels costs) don't follow those observations. But, in general, I wonder if the prices play a major role.

    It is difficult to analyze the chart to any meaningful degree as it presents energy use totals by source/sales and summarizes the states per capita.

    1. Did you mean that the gulpers had lower electricity rates? Kentucky, indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming all have electricity rates below the national average.

      Florida has electricity rates above the naitonal average, as do California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, RI, New Hampshire, New York. All these states have high rates but lower bills, because they use less electricity.