Energy usage has certainly changed since the light bulb was first introduced at the 1904 World’s Fair. It’s amazing what innovators can accomplish in just over a century’s time. But the last 50 years is where we’ve really seen energy use skyrocket. As television, computers and phones have become more powerful, so has the need to keep them plugged in and turned on. However, it’s important to keep track of how much is being used.
Using the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s newly released data for 2013 that became available on July 24, 2015, we’ve put together an animated graphic so that you can see how many millions of BTU’s have been used over the years and which states are the smallest and biggest contributors. If you'd like to see the data frame by frame, click here. For those unaware, a BTU, or British thermal unit, is a traditional unit of energy. A 100-watt light bulb provides approximately 340 BTUs.
The population of the U.S. nearly doubled from 1964 to 2013. It makes sense that energy use rose dramatically in that time frame, in part due to the increased construction of suburbs, housing complexes and apartment buildings.
Which States Use the Most Power?
Over the past 50 years, Indiana has averaged the most energy usage. According to facts from the Institute for Energy Research, this is largely because of regulations they do not enforce. For example, they do not cap greenhouse gas emissions, and they do not impose state-based appliance efficiency standards. Appliance efficiency could be a huge factor, as non-energy efficient appliances can use far more power.
Which States Use the Least Power?
Hawaii used the least amount of energy by a wide margin, and it could be because they have regulations put in place that states like Indiana do not. However, there are other explanations as well. Their cost per kWh is more than $0.21, by far the highest in the country. This, coupled with Hawaii’s mild climate year round, is likely a reason for their decreased use of energy.
Which States Have Used the Most Power in the Last 5 Years?
As shown here, North Dakota had the highest rate of energy consumption in a 5-year period between 2009-2013, and a contributing factor could be the weather. The amount of cold weather North Dakota receives (their average daily temperature in the winter is the coldest amongst the contiguous 48 states) increases the need for electricity and natural gas. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, their usage in both of those categories are well above the national average.
Which States Have Used the Least Power in the Last 5 Years?
It’s interesting to note that the maps noting the highest energy use in 50 years and the most recent 5 year period show all different states except for one. However, when noting states with the lowest energy use, the opposite is true.
In What Years Were the Most and Least Amount of Energy Used?
Most would find it unsurprising that the year with the lowest energy consumption was 1960, but 2005 with the highest energy consumption certainly seems random. Why was use so much higher that specific year but has seemingly gone down every year since? One reason could be the passage of the Energy Policy Act in August of that year. This act, among other things, offered incentives to the average homeowner for making environmentally positive changes to their home. These improvements were made more affordable as well.
In What Decades Were the Most and Least Amount of Energy Used?
It’s important to note the overall trends in these graphs. The amount of states covered in dark red increased dramatically over the decades. And while some of that energy use is certainly necessary, a lot of it could be described as overuse. As these numbers are solely focused on residential energy consumption, that means there are many things the average homeowner can do to reverse the trend.
How Can We Reduce Energy Use?
There is actually much that can be done to save on your energy bill and reduce use. You can replace your light bulbs with lower watt compact fluorescents, seal windows and doors so your house doesn’t have to work as hard to keep cool or warm, or if you have the budget, you can buy energy-efficient appliances. Even something as simple as recycling can reduce your energy footprint greatly. It’s often the smallest things that when added up can make the biggest difference.