A new study by Property Shark has produced some predictable findings and some startling ones about the amount of carbon emitted by American homes.
When looking at total CO2 emissions that result from home energy consumption, the states that have overall higher emissions are the ones you’d expect – the most populous states, with a corresponding high number of housing units. The top five polluters are Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. New York and Florida also stand out by the total amount spent on energy – each shell out over $7 billion per year, far more than the rest of the states that made it into the top 10. No surprises there.
Now for the startling news. California came in sixth on the list even though it is the most populous state in the U.S., has by far the most housing units in the nation, and has the world’s sixth largest economy. Its 17.3 million tons of carbon emissions were barely half of Texas’s 32.3 million tons. (New York generated 27.5 million tons.)
What’s California’s secret? Partly it’s the mild climate, which helps California homes use less on heating and cooling; and partly it’s the state’s aggressive adoption of renewable energy. There’s an extra factor: the average home size in California is the second lowest in the U.S., trailing only Washington DC. Translation: McMansions are bad for the planet.
The states with the most carbon emission per house are all clustered in frosty New England: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. The least polluting states are Hawaii, Washington DC, Wyoming, Alaska, and North Dakota.
There are encouraging signs, according to the report’s author, Andra Rus. Renewable energy is getting cheaper, with solar leading the way, and LEED-certified apartment construction in the U.S. has quadrupled in the past five years.
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