California leading the charge on energy efficiency

Last month, President Obama finally acted on longstanding promises to make greater strides toward national energy efficiency, and put into action a plan designed to accomplish exactly that. By increasing the number of energy efficient homes in the United States and reducing the consumption needs of households and companies, the White House hopes to wean the country off more harmful power plants – which produce the greatest amounts of carbon pollution – and replace them with new ones.

But some states are more ahead of the curve than others, and California is one of the nation's leading examples of eco-friendly living. For 40 years, Californians have taken measures like weatherproofing houses and upgrading lighting fixtures, allowing them to get just as much done with equal or less amounts of energy, all at half the cost of fossil-fuel sources.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the country's top environmental agencies, has released a new analysis outlining California's energy efficiency accomplishments, which include the following:

  • Both homeowners and business owners have reaped over $65 billion in energy savings
  • Five million cars' worth of carbon pollution annually has been cut
  • Home electric bills have dropped to 25 percent lower than the national average
  • Millions of lower-income families pay much cheaper utility bills
  • State standards for building and appliance energy use helps reduce waste
  • The state economy has generated twice as much output as the rest of the nation per kilowatt-hour consumed.

Because of these efforts, the Golden State has reported a nearly flat per capita electricity consumption over the course of 40 years. In that same time, consumption for the rest of the United States has risen by 50 percent.

Energy efficiency doesn't have to be exclusive to California though. Virginia homeowners can meet with Virginia home inspections to conduct an energy audit of their property, finding ways to improve their household efficiency and bring down their bills in the process.