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Pennsylvania Gets Mixed Scores in State Efficiency Ranking

By Tony M. Guerrieri, PA Join Legislative Air and Water Quality Conservation Committee

October is National Energy Awareness Month, but a national survey shows Pennsylvania has some work to do if it wants to catch up with the rest of the country.

The survey by WalletHub, a web research organization that specializes in comparison surveys, identified the nation’s most (and least) energy efficient states. Analyzing the energy efficiency of cars and homes, the survey ranks Pennsylvania 39th overall in energy efficiency. Hawaii, Alaska and the District of Columbia were excluded from the survey because of insufficient data.

In order to rank the states by energy efficiency, WalletHub compared states based on two key measures: “home-related energy efficiency” and “car-related energy efficiency.” Home-related energy efficiency was determined by tabulating the total amount of energy consumed per capita by residential homes and adjusting for degree days (degree days are a measure of how much temperatures vary from a base of 65 degrees Fahrenheit). The study did not take into account commercial or industrial data.

Houses in a state like Pennsylvania, with a relatively mild climate, might require less energy for heating and cooling than a state like Florida which is subject to intense heat, but that does not mean Pennsylvania houses are more energy efficient. Adjusting for degree days gets closer to an apples-to-apples comparison. WalletHub noted the average “American household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills, almost half of which goes to heating and cooling expenses.”

A “car-related energy efficiency” measurement, determined by dividing the annual vehicle miles driven by the gallons of gasoline consumed, was also factored in. The study did not take into account energy use from electric, commercial or alternatively-fueled vehicles.

To calculate the overall ranking of each state, the study weighted the home-related energy efficiency rating by 5.5, to the 4.5 weight giving to the car-related energy efficiency rating. When it comes to energy usage in Pennsylvania, a state where hot temperatures keep air conditioning units running much of the summer and traveling by car is the primary transportation, the state ranks among the bottom half of the pack in energy efficiency. Broken down, Pennsylvania ranked 25th in residential energy efficiency and 42nd in vehicle efficiency, which was good enough to place the state 39th overall. In the overall ranking, most of our neighboring states fared better: Ohio ranked 23rd, Maryland finished 25th, New York ranked second, New Jersey ranked 35th and Delaware tied for 15th. West Virginia finished 42nd in the survey.

Vermont topped WalletHub’s list as the most energy efficient state in the nation. Vermont is ranked second in home-related energy efficiency and fourth in car-related energy efficiency. New York is the second most energy efficient state, with rankings of sixth in home-related energy efficiency and sixth in car-related energy efficiency. Wisconsin is third on the state energy efficiency list, with a rank of eighth in home-related efficiency and 11th in car-related energy efficiency.

Behind Wisconsin came California, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Colorado, Utah, Maine and Michigan. The top ten states are all north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

South Carolina is currently the least energy efficient state, according to WalletHub’s survey. The Palmetto State was ranked 48th overall, 47th in home-related energy efficiency and 43rd in car-related energy efficiency.

Louisiana comes in at 47th overall on the state energy efficiency ranking. The Bayou State was ranked 48th in home-related energy efficiency and 38th in car-related energy efficiency. Kentucky is ranked in 46th place on the list, at 43rd in home-related energy efficiency and 37th in car-related energy efficiency.

Oklahoma, New Jersey, Tennessee, North Dakota, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Missouri, West Virginia, Virginia, Arkansas, and Texas joined Kentucky, Louisiana and South Carolina in the bottom 15 states.

The survey found many of the country’s larger states struggled with vehicular efficiency – Texas ranked 44th; Montana ranked 39th; and North Dakota ranked 48th. Some large states performed well with car-related efficiency, particularly California (fifth) and Florida (first). Utah is the country’s most home-related energy efficient state. Louisiana finished last.

WalletHub used publicly available statistics. For the 2014 state ranking, the site gleaned data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Climatic Data Center, the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Federal Highway Administration. For the full survey, visit WalletHub’s website at: