Most and Least Energy Efficient States: Where Does Your State Rank?
The average cost of electricity in 2022 will was projected to be 8% higher than it was in 2021, according to estimates by the U.S. Energy Information Association (EIA).1 On top of that, the EIA expected the annual demand for energy to increase by 2.7% in the U.S. in 2022, thanks in part to a hotter-than-usual summer.2
Consumers are feeling the pinch as the cost of energy skyrockets and demand remains strong, so it comes as no surprise that more consumers and local governments are wondering how they can conserve energy to keep heating and cooling costs low and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Of course, individuals can take steps to increase the energy efficiency of their homes by upgrading appliances, lights and other home systems (like HVACs) to energy-efficient models. However, the weight remains on state governments to implement crucial energy-centric policies like renewable energy generation targets, public benefits programs, cleaner transportation plans and more.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit research organization, has measured and ranked energy efficiency in each state. The ranking is based on a selection of holistic factors that consider the policies, initiatives and advancements toward energy conservation in each state.
The purpose of the ACEEE’s Energy Efficiency State Scorecard is to highlight where states are succeeding and where they have room for improvement. The head author of the 2022 report, Sagarika Subramanium, explained: “What we really hope is that states can use this report to their benefit. It’s really a gap analysis for states to see where they can improve. We’re hoping that this report will be really useful in highlighting best practices and maybe nudging some states in the right direction.”
How does your state stack up? Below, you can see how each state excels and where there’s room to improve, newly updated for 2022.
Note: States with the same rank indicate a tie.
Energy Efficiency Rankings by State
The ACEEE has researched the unique policies, initiatives and advancements in energy efficiency for each state to determine a nationwide ranking system.
- Top states like California, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont established energy efficiency policies to help dampen the impact of high energy costs.
- No state earned a perfect 50-point score, indicating that there is room for improvement in every state.
- California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Colorado, Virginia and Nevada earned the highest energy efficiency scores in their respective regions, the same leaders as in 2020, the last time the report was produced.
- Louisiana, Mississippi, South Dakota, Kansas, South Carolina and Wyoming ranked the lowest, each earning fewer than 4 points out of the possible 50.
- South Carolina dropped the most in rankings between 2020 and 2022, falling from 40th place to 49th place.
For a complete breakdown of each state’s score within each category evaluated, read the full ACEE report here.
About the Scoring
The ACEEE ranks states on their energy efficiency efforts and tracks new policies and initiatives that aim to minimize energy use in each state.
For the newly released 2022 energy efficiency scorecard, the ACEEE increased its focus on equity-centered policies that assist in easing the energy burden on low-income and underserved households and communities. Equity-focused actions now make up 20% of the total available points.
In fact, the ACEEE added 16 new equity-centric metrics to its methodology in 2022. Sagarika Subramanium, the head author, highlighted the importance of equity for states, saying “it’s not enough for states to be leading in energy efficiency policies. They have to do so equitably, and the way we can promote that is by increasing that focus in the report.”
The ACEEE analysis of each state is broken down into six categories. Each state is assigned a rating for each category, with a cumulative maximum score of 50. The six categories are as follows:
|Category||Key Considerations||Top Achievements of 2022|
|Utility and Public Benefits |
(worth 15 points)
|Does the state support decarbonization efforts within industry? Does the state have an ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) or another form of Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS)?||California, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and Washington, D.C., all succeed in this category, having implemented statewide low-income energy efficiency programs and equitable energy planning policies.|
|Transportation Policies |
(worth 13 points)
|Has the state adopted Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards and a Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program? Has the state set goals to reduce vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation?||Washington, D.C., and 16 states committed to phasing out gasoline- or diesel-fueled light-duty vehicles. Additionally, eight states plus D.C. dedicated funding to installing EV charging equipment for underserved or low-income communities.|
|Building Energy Efficiency Policies |
(worth 12 points)
|Has the state made strides toward increasing efficiency standards for new construction?||Washington, Colorado, Maryland and D.C. created building energy performance standards for existing buildings. These codes require a minimum level of energy efficiency. Seven states and D.C. have the most up-to-date commercial building codes, and five states have the most up-to-date residential codes.|
|State Government-Led Energy Efficiency Initiatives |
(worth 4.5 points)
|Does the state offer loan and/or grant programs to encourage energy savings? Has the state set efficiency standards for public buildings? Has the state created and funded energy efficiency programs? This can include school, industrial, residential and public projects.||California, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island all made strides with a variety of equity-centered programs. This included setting goals to ease the burden of energy costs for low-income residents, putting energy-saving requirements in place for public buildings, and making a concerted effort to include underrepresented groups in decision-making processes.|
|Industrial Policies |
(worth 2.5 points)
|Does the state support workplace training programs and initiatives that help achieve industrial decarbonization targets or clean heat standards?||Seven states and D.C. offer technical assistance to develop energy management strategies and support re-training workers to be employed in industrial energy efficiency.|
|Appliances and Equipment Standards |
(worth 3 points)
|Does the state have high appliance and equipment efficiency standards?||Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, New York and Washington approved new and/or updated appliance standards.|
Visit the ACEEE website to view the full report and read an in-depth explanation of each state’s energy-efficient initiatives and advancements. The ACEE has developed a one-page evaluation of each state’s strong and weak points and suggestions for improvement.
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