Earlier last month we profiled the ten most energy efficient states in the U.S. Well, these next ten states represent an altogether different group. These are the ten states that consume the most energy per capita, according to data and reports from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Surprisingly, many of the states on our list are rural, several boasting less than ten people per square mile according to Census Bureau data, making them among the smallest states in the nation per capita.
These rural states are often also big energy producers, as is the case with states like Texas, Alaska, and Wyoming, all of which appear on our list, and all which actually produce more energy than they consume, though they remain some of the biggest energy consumers in the nation, largely thanks to their highly energy-intensive industries.
These ten states are power hungry primarily because they boast strong manufacturing and industrial sectors which eat up energy, such as a metal manufacturing, oil refining, or food processing. Still others boast strong agricultural economies, another sector which demands a large amount of energy.
Other states made it into the top ten due to their climate and geography. Many of the states on our list, for example, exist in exceptionally cold climates, while others endure both frigid winters and oppressively hot and humid summers, and therefore have residential energy demands far beyond the national median.
The states are ranked in reverse order and do not take into account the amount of energy each state produces.
Indiana sources most of its energy from coal, keeping the state’s average electricity costs low.
Total BTUs consumed: 2,786 trillion
BTUs per capita: 426.1 million
The EIA notes that Indiana’s high per capita energy consumption is largely a result of its geographic location as well as its climate. The state endures frigid, polar air coming in from Canada, lake effect snow, and wind off of Lake Michigan, and is also influenced by warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, Indiana has a highly varied climate that boasts both very cold winters and sometimes oppressively hot and humid summers; the state’s high residential energy use reflects these temperature extremes.
Because the state produces relatively little energy, it is a net energy consumer; Indiana directs the majority of the energy it consumes to metal manufacturing (steel and aluminum) as well as to transportation equipment manufacturing.
Total BTUs consumed: 1,871 trillion
BTUs per capita: 427.1 million
Kentucky sources most of its energy from coal and petroleum, and the state is among the top three coal-producing states in the nation, according to EIA data; Kentucky supplies coal to more than one-half of all U.S. states.
Kentucky ranks among the top ten states for energy consumption mostly because of its industrial sector, which primarily produces coal and natural gas in addition to its agricultural industry, which is known for producing beef cattle, thoroughbred horses, tobacco, soybeans, corn and wheat. It’s important to note, however, that like several other states on this list, the state actually produces more energy than it consumes, and is a net energy supplier to the rest of the nation.
8. South Dakota
Total BTUs consumed: 376 trillion
BTUs per capita: 451.3 million
The EIA notes that this state has “substantial renewable energy potential,” due to the high winds which sweep unobstructed across the state’s prairies. Currently, however, the state produces a small amount of fossil fuels, with most of its crude oil and natural gas production concentrated in the western part of the state.
The state ranks among the top ten for per capita energy consumption despite having low total energy consumption because of its industry sector, specifically the state’s cattle farms and its growing manufacturing industry, especially food processing, though the state also manufactures computers, transportation equipment, fabricated metal products, as well as farm and construction machinery.
Total BTUs consumed: 861 trillion
BTUs per capita: 463.8 million
Nebraska produces little when it comes to fossil fuels but the EIA notes that the state has “considerable wind potential.” Nebraska’s energy usage primarily goes towards agriculture, and it is a leading agricultural state. The state’s industrial sector leads the nation in terms of energy demand, and that energy goes to things like food processing, chemicals, and machinery manufacturing.
Nebraska’s small population consumes a lot of energy per person, despite having a relatively low total energy consumption, the EIA notes that this is perhaps in part due to the state’s very hot summers and cold winters, which contribute heavily to heating and cooling costs.
Total BTUs consumed: 12,282 trillion
BTUs per capita: 471.3 million
Texas has long been known as an oil-producing state, and it’s true that the state leads the nation in terms of energy production, primarily oil and natural gas, though in recent years the state has also invested in renewable energy sources, particularly wind.
Energy use among residents remains high, in part, the EIA notes, because of the state’s highly varied climate, which “ranges from humid and subtropical at the coast to semi-arid on the high plains to arid in the mountains.” This variation means that the states heating and cooling demands are both high. The state’s transportation sector also consumes a large portion of energy, due to the long distances residents must travel across the state.
Like many other states on this list, however, Texas ranks high in energy consumption primarily due to its industrial sector. The EIA points out that both the petroleum refining and chemical manufacturing industries are highly energy intensive.
The state is primarily fueled by oil, though natural gas is a significant secondary resource; the state also produces more than 14,000 trillion BTUs of energy each year, primarily petroleum. The state’s petroleum accounts for nearly a fourth of the nation’s crude oil reserves, and additionally, Texas is also the leading producer of natural gas in the country.
Total BTUs consumed: 1,096 trillion
BTUs per capita: 471 million
Iowa sources most of its energy from coal and petroleum sources, but renewable energy sources also contribute to a fair share of the state’s total consumption.
The EIA notes that while the state has relatively little fossil fuel production potential, its climate and geographic location make it a prime renewable energy resource state. The state’s open prairies and the relatively few obstructions to wind flow help to rank this state seventh in the nation for wind production potential. Iowa, being a very sunny state as well, also has enormous potential as a premier solar energy producer.
Iowa pushes into the top five most power hungry states primarily because of its agricultural economy (the state produces the most corn and the most ethanol from corn of any state), which is highly energy intensive.
4. North Dakota
Total BTUs consumed: 553 trillion
BTUs per capita: 788.4 million
North Dakota consumed 788.4 million BTUs per capita in 2012. The state’s primarily relies on coal for its fuel, and produces about 2,138 trillion BTUs each year, making it one of several states on our list which produces more fuel than it consumes. The state is undergoing an energy boom, and experienced the greatest percent increase in GDP of any state in 2012, primarily due to its oil production; the state houses six of the nation’s largest oil fields. Further, North Dakota is also among the top ten ethanol producing states in the country due to its highly productive cropland.
North Dakota’s total energy consumption actually ranks among the lowest in the nation, according to the EIA. However, it is its energy consumption per person and per GDP that pushes the state into the top five most power hungry. The EIA notes that this high rate of energy consumption is likely due in part to the state’s high heating demand during the winter as well as to its energy-intensive economy due to industries like those we mentioned above.
Total BTUs consumed: 3,909 trillion
BTUs per capita: 849.3 million
Louisiana sources most of its energy from natural gas and petroleum, and produces around 3,794 trillion BTUs of energy each year; the state ranks low when it comes to energy efficiency and ranked near the bottom of the ACEEE’s State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, along with Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Mississippi, West Virginia and Nebraska.
Louisiana boasts a rich agricultural economy and plenty of natural gas reserves, additionally, the state is also rich in fossil fuels; the EIA notes that “crude oil and natural gas are found in abundance both on and offshore.”
The state’s total energy and per capita consumption consistently rank among the highest in the nation, though the EIA notes that this is in part due to the state’s large industrial sector. Paper manufacturing is the third largest industry in the state, following chemicals, oil and natural gas, all of which are highly energy-intensive. The EIA does note that despite hot and humid summers and the widespread demand for air conditioning, the state’s residential energy consumption is quite modest.
Total BTUs consumed: 637 trillion
BTUs per capita: 872.7 million
Alaska sources most of its energy from natural gas and petroleum, with very little of the state’s energy coming from coal. Indeed, the oil and natural gas industries dominate Alaska’s economy; the EIA notes that the North Slope of Alaska houses more than a dozen of the 100 largest oil fields in the United States.
It’s also worth noting that while Alaska came in second on the EIA’s rankings of the most consumptive U.S. states, Alaska also produces a lot of energy, more energy than it actually consumes, in fact. According to the most recent rankings, Alaska produced 1,563 trillion BTUs of energy, and is therefore a net energy producer to the nation. However, the EIA notes that “the state’s per person energy consumption is third highest in the nation after Wyoming and Louisiana,” despite its small population.
Total BTUs consumed: 547 trillion
BTUs per capita: 948.2 million
Wyoming has the smallest population of any state, and only Alaska has fewer residents per square mile. According to the EIA, however, despite this state’s small population, it is a “powerhouse producer of coal, natural gas, and petroleum,” and Wyoming “supplies more energy to the nation and has more producing federal oil and gas leases than any other state.”
Yet the state consumes more energy than any other in the nation; why? Well, that powerhouse fuel production industry demands a lot of energy itself, and according to the EIA, the industrial sector accounts for more than half of the state’s energy consumption. The state is one of the nation’s leading natural gas producers, and leads the nation in coal production as well.
Like Alaska, Wyoming is also a state that, while it consumes a lot of energy, also produces a lot of energy. Wyoming produces a whopping 9,611 trillion BTUs of energy each year, meaning that the state’s energy consumption less its energy production falls into the negative digits at -9,064 BTUs.