South Dakota is the third-most energy-efficient state in the Lower 48.…if you only count Trump states.
Governing points to a WalletHub report that figures state energy efficiency on home energy efficiency, as measured by total per capita residential energy consumption per annual degree days, and vehicle energy efficiency, as measured by annual vehicle miles driven per gasoline consumption and annual vehicle miles driven per capita.
South Dakota ranks #8 for home energy efficiency—we gobble up a lot of energy, but since WalletHub divides that consumption by degree days, evidently intending to cut people slack for surviving, and since we live in the region with the most degree days in the country (winter’s coming, and that’s what blows up our energy bills), our ranking comes out really good. That ranking thus suggests that, having to use so much energy to survive the winter, we’ve internalized the lessons of our Dust-Bowl forebears and learned to weatherproof our houses, conserve our winter energy, and wear longjohns so we can keep the thermostat down a couple ticks. If we weren’t efficient with our energy, we’d go broke.
That high ranking for energy efficiency may thus be deceiving: we may get more out of each BTU we burn, but each of us still uses more energy to keep our homes livable than we would if we lived in any of 43 other states. If we wiped the continent clean of people and started recolonizing from scratch to optimize our home energy usage, we’d settle Hawaii, California, Florida, the District of Columbia, Nevada, and Arizona first.
Whatever efficiency we’ve adopted out of necessity in home energy use has not translated into efficiency in auto energy. WalletHub ranks us 46th for vehicular efficiency. Our wide open spaces require us to drive a lot, yet we insist on driving less-efficient trucks to cover a greater proportion of those miles than folks in most other states. It’s all those darned smoky Trump-brownshirt trucks….
WalletHub combines our #8 for home energy efficiency and our #46 for auto energy efficiency to rank us #22 overall. Only two states that voted for Trump in 2020, Florida and Utah, ranked higher overall. Everybody else from #2 to #20 was a Biden state in 2020.
Our Biden neighbor Minnesota is just as cold as South Dakota, and its country folk have as many miles to cover and as much lumber and groceries to haul back to the homestead as we do, yet Minnesota manages to rank #2 for home energy efficiency, #26 for auto energy efficiency, and #4 for combined efficiency.