Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Guess Which 5 States Burn One-Third of America's Total Energy (No. 3 Is a Shocker)

By Jason Hall - Oct 2, 2017 at 6:00AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

You might be surprised to learn which states use the most energy. It's not always the states with the most people.

Houston, Texas skyline at night.

Image source: Getty Images.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's most recent data, five U.S. states were responsible for more than one-third of the entire country's energy consumption. And while that may seem like a crazy-high portion for such a small group of states to use up, there are multiple factors at play that drive energy use in these states, including how many people live and work there, environmental factors such as extreme heat and cold that require more energy consumption, and industrial energy consumption. 

Keep reading to see which states use the most energy, and why. 

"Welcome to Texas" road sign.

Image source: Getty Images.

No. 1: Texas

It's probably not much of a surprise that the Lone Star State topped the list, consuming over 13% of total American energy use. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Texas is the second most populous state, with nearly 28 million residents in 2016. Texas is also a geographically huge state, with its major metropolitan centers spread out, increasing transportation energy consumption. 

But it's not Texas' population and geographical size that are responsible for its energy consumption. Industrial and transportation needs account for nearly 75% of Texas' energy consumption, primarily because of the state's huge oil and gas output and its petrochemicals manufacturing base along the Gulf Coast that processes much of the oil and natural gas produced in other states, as well as huge quantities imported from all over the world. 

Surfers sitting on their boards with their feet in the water, as seen from below.

Image source: Getty Images.

No. 2: California

With a population approaching 40 million, California is another unsurprising member of this list. What may be surprising for some readers, however, is that California ranks as high as it does on this list for similar reasons as Texas, with some of the highest industrial and transportation energy consumption in the country. 

California is also a major energy producer, like Texas, as well as one of the country's biggest manufacturing states, both of which drive industrial energy and transportation costs. But there's more to it: California is also a major food-producing state, the home of some of the country's biggest ports, two industries that require huge transportation energy consumption to move goods and food through, around, and out of California to the rest of the nation. California is also a major tourist state and port for travelers entering and exiting the U.S., further boosting its transportation energy consumption. 

Bourbon Street sign in New Orleans, Louisiana

Image source: Getty Images.

No. 3: Louisiana

With a population of just over 4.5 million putting it exactly in the middle of the 50 most populous states, Louisiana is the most surprising member of the top-five energy-burning states. But even with oppressively hot and humid summers that can see temperatures hovering near triple digits at midnight in the summer, the Bayou State doesn't make this list because of excessive air conditioner use. 

Like neighboring Texas, Louisiana is a major energy producer, a petrochemical manufacturing center, and one of the leading import and export states, with its major shipping ports on the Gulf Coast. Combined, the industrial and transportation sectors make up a whopping 86% of Louisiana's energy consumption. 

Florida oranges on the tree

Image source: Getty Images.

No. 4: Florida

The third most populous state, Florida also makes the list of top five energy users. And while 19 of every 20 homes and the vast majority of businesses in Florida have air conditioning, it's not residential or business consumption that drives energy use in the Sunshine State. It also doesn't have the same heavy industry as coastal peers Texas and Louisiana do. 

So what drives Florida's energy consumption? It's the thing that brings most of the state's visitors: tourism. Or, more specifically, the transportation that it takes to get tourists into, out of, and around the state. That includes the many airports, as well as the popular cruise-ship industry which operates from Florida's ports. 

"Welcome to Illinois" road sign.

Image source: Getty Images.

No. 5: Illinois

The sixth most populous state, with close to 13 million residents, Illinois is a major transportation hub, with some of the world's busiest airports. The "Land of Lincoln" is also a major shipping hub, with its relatively central location on the North American continent and on the Great Lakes, making it an ideal central location to send goods around the U.S. and into and out of Canada. 

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 06/29/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.