For most Americans, summer is the time to take a moment to soak up the sun and travel to spend time with friends and family. While those are all things that most of us look forward to, the energy bill that comes along with blasting the A.C. and driving cross-country puts a definite damper on the summer fun. In the United States, the average consumer drops more than 7 percent of their total income on energy every year.
While the summer months, especially July and August, are the most energy expensive in the U.S., just how much Americans spend on energy depends a lot on where they live. The price of electricity, natural gas, and gasoline varies from state to state and the climate of the region as well as local infrastructure play a role in what monthly energy bills actually look like across the country. In a new report, WalletHub, a web research organization that specializes in comparison studies, ranks the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on how much the average consumer shells out every month to keep the home comfortable and the car running. To make the ranking, WalletHub looked at the price of electricity, natural gas, and gasoline in every state as well as how much of each of these energy sources was used each month.
The numbers used in the study came from the Energy Information Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, a well as the AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
When both the price of energy and the use of energy was factored in, Colorado came out on top as the least energy expensive state in the nation. Consumers in Colorado spent an average of $301/month on electricity, natural gas, and gasoline. Hawaii on the other hand came in dead last, with an average energy bill of $451/month. People in Hawaii do use less natural gas than in any other state and are also the second lowest consumers of electricity, but because all of the energy sources have to be transported in via ship, the bill still ends up the highest.
Interestingly, none of the states with the lowest electricity prices — North Dakota, Washington, Arkansas, Idaho and Louisiana had the lowest electricity bills. In fact, Louisiana had the highest electricity consumption per consumer of any state. This is likely in part due to the hot and humid climate of the state which makes running the A.C. most months of the year the norm.
Breaking down the data to look at the part of the energy bill that comes from cars, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas are the cheapest places to drive. And yet some of these states show up again in the ranking of the five states where consumers spend the most per month on gasoline, e.g. Alabama and Mississippi. Clearly cheap gas does not translate into cheap transportation if people have to drive and drive significant distances every day, because of poor public transport infrastructure.
Conversely, some of the states where people spend the least each month on gasoline are also states with cities that have excellent public transport. Both Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia are in the top five for “lowest fuel consumption” and Washington D.C. and Philadelphia consistently rank amongst the best cities for public transit. People in Pennsylvania spend just $140/month on fuel. In Mississippi, however, where gas is much cheaper, the average consumer spends $247/month. Alabama fares similarly, with a $213/month fuel bill despite having some of the cheapest gasoline in the country.