Extreme climate and long drives are leading some experts to conclude Texas is one of the least energy efficient states in the country.
According to a Wallethub study, Texas ranked 41st in energy efficiency, which was broken down into several metrics including home energy and auto efficiency.
The Department of Energy estimates the average U.S. family spends at least $2,000 a year on utilities, most of which is allocated to heating and cooling.
On average, Americans spend upwards of $3,000 a year on energy alone when factoring gas and utilities.
Extreme heat is a factor that leads to higher energy and utility bills. The Austin metropolitan area had 51 days of 100 plus degree heat during the summer, marking one of the warmest summers on record.
Brian Curtsinger, senior energy service advisor for Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC), said Texans can save up to 5 percent on their electricity bill by adjusting the thermostat by one degree.
“The first thing people should do is be aware of how they are using their energy,” Curtsinger said. “Take a look at your bill and see what your daily, weekly and even hourly use is. Second, know your baseline for consumption. If something doesn’t need to be on, that’s money you can be saving.”
Curtsinger said the most important but dangerous tool in the home is the thermostat. He urges people to look at the device as a bank account. Every degree raised or lowered depending on the outside temperature means precious dollars lost or gained.
According to Wallethub’s analysis, Texas has high residential energy consumption, most of which comes as a consequence of the summer heat. Better insulation in new homes can cut energy costs and cool homes more efficiently during the summer.
PEC experts advise Texans to turn computers off when they are not being used and run appliances like the washer and dryer in the afternoon when the temperature drops.
“Everything that consumes electricity emits heat and that heat will force your air conditioner to work hard to keep things cool,” Curtsinger said. “If you have a dirty filter that is pushing 1600 cubic feet of air when your system is designed to move 2000 cubic feet of air, it’ll run 20 percent longer.”
Increased fuel consumption also led to Texas’ low ranking.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated average consumer spending on motor fuel and oil at $1,968 in 2018, a $59 increase from last year.
Texans are also spending more on fuel for their vehicles than 88 percent of the country.
Texas is the second largest state in the country by landmass, and residents are traveling more than 270 billion miles a year throughout the state. Additionally, the consumption of gasoline is around 20 billion gallons annually.
In August, President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protective Agency announced plans for major cutbacks on fuel efficiency standards, which has been met by criticism from companies like Honda, GM and states like California, where the fuel efficiency standard is ranked 5th in the country.
“We calculated fuel efficiency as miles/gallons in each state and compared the results,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at Wallethub. “Texas’ vehicle fuel efficiency is 13.78 miles/gallon, placing it 44th among the states we analyzed.”