Energy Efficient States: The Winners and Losers

by ‐ Tags: benchmarking policy, tracking and benchmarking, current events

Energy efficiency has become a central issue in many states and several have begun implementing efficiency programs across their utilities, transportation codes, and state government initiatives. Not only are these policies good for the environment, but they also help property owners cut costs.

Utilities are one of the biggest expenses for building owners, so efficiency programs, state legislature around energy use, and municipal and state compliance rules shouldn’t be viewed as red tape, but instead a win-win for everyone.

Now the question is, how does your state measure up?

Last month, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard of the most and least efficient states in the U.S. Unsurprisingly, the more progressive states such as Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont are at the top. What’s more important to pay attention to, however, is who is at the bottom.

North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, and Wyoming all post very low scores for building energy codes; heat and power; state and government initiatives; and others. Why is this important? Let’s be honest, these states are really, really cold. With all of them having historical record lows colder than -55ºF, I think it’s safe to say that if you live here, you may want to invest in a good heating system. After all, you live in one of the top 10 states for coldest average winter temperatures.

Whether you do it for yourself as a homeowner, or whether you’re a multifamily housing owner or manager, it just makes sense!

And there is money to be had for your efficiency efforts. In fact, state investment in energy efficiency programs has tripled from about $2.5 billion to $7.5 billion per year since the first ACEEE scorecard was released eight years ago. In addition, several states and cities have passed building energy disclosure and compliance laws as well.

“State action on energy efficiency improves bottom lines, drives investment across all sectors of the economy, creates jobs, and offsets the environmental harms created by the energy production system,” notes Maggie Molina, Director of ACEEE’s Utilities, State, and Local Policy program.

So why don’t these underperforming states have better energy efficiency programs? Maybe the initial implementation costs seem high, but imagine the impact incenting homeowners and businesses would have, especially in these colder climates. State programs promoting the installation of more efficient heating systems, insulation upgrades, and other energy-saving measures would certainly be worth the investment in the long run in these states.

Bottom line? There’s clearly room for improvement and along with reduced carbon emissions, a lot of heating dollars could be saved, especially in cold climate states.

Check out the map below to see how your state compares, and which states are the most and least efficient.

ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard Map

If you’d like more details, check out the complete ACEEE Energy Efficiency Scorecard here.

Don’t forget - some states and municipalities have energy disclosure or compliance laws that you need to abide by. Get our complete guide to building energy disclosure laws today to stay informed.