Texas has led the United States in energy consumption for six decades and counting. It beats the next-closest state, California, by over 60%, making it an energy-hungry place.
However, headlines like this don’t always tell the whole story. It’s easy to attribute such statistics to a bunch of AC-cooled mansions sucking amperage from the system, but the reality is far more complex. Below, we’ll look at where Texas’ energy goes and how much individual Texans are really using.
The Burden of Energy Production
If you think Texas is just a shameless energy hog, think again: Texas is simply doing some hard work for the rest of the country.
Over half of Texas’ energy consumption goes into industrial use. A large portion of that industry is the energy sector, churning away to create products for the rest of the country to enjoy. Energy sources like natural gas and petroleum don’t suddenly appear in usable form — they have to be processed and refined to be usable. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2020, Texas produced a whopping 43% of the entire country’s crude oil and over a quarter of its natural gas.
Even states that don’t produce these substances use them. However, the burden of energy consumption falls on Texas — it’s just that the title “largest energy consumer” doesn’t capture this subtlety.
In terms of industrial energy consumption per capita, though, Texas is saved by its population numbers. States like Louisiana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Alaska are far ahead of it in per capita industrial energy consumption (though the most populous of these, Louisiana, barely has 15% of Texas’ population).
Energy production is not exactly thankless work, of course. Texas’ energy industry makes up about 10% of its GDP and earns hundreds of billions of dollars each year. In all, the tradeoff is a happy one.
More Stats on Per Capita Energy Use
Texas is actually closer to the bottom of the list than the top when it comes to per capita energy use in the residential and commercial sectors.
Take residential energy consumption. The average Texan burns 62.1 million BTUs per person per year, making Texas 40th on the list. For comparison, North Dakota is number one at 99.8 BTUs, and Hawaii is last on the list at 24.1 BTUs. A lot of this is because Texas has mild winters that don’t require much heating.
In terms of non-industrial commercial energy consumption, Texas is 28th on the list at 57.9 million BTUs per person per year. That is significantly lower than the District of Columbia’s 152.0 million BTUs and North Dakota’s 122.1 million, though it’s higher than Hawaii’s 30.0 million.
Again, these figures are tempered because Texas is the nation’s leader in wind energy. The Lone Star State cranks out around 28% of all wind energy in the country, and its wind power alone produces twice as much electricity as its nuclear stations.
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