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Texas falls short on list of most energy efficient states

Texas ranked as the 40th most energy efficient state, according to a recent report. Photo via Getty Images

The Lone Star State again failed to perform well on an annual ranking of the most energy efficient states.

Texas ranked as the 40th most energy efficient state, according to WalletHub's annual report. Only eight continental US states ranked poorer, including Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, and South Carolina, respectively.

Source: WalletHub

The report looked at home and auto energy efficiency, as the report's methodology outlines.

"We obtained the former by calculating the ratio of total residential energy consumption to annual degree days. For the latter, we divided the annual vehicle miles driven by gallons of gasoline consumed to determine vehicle-fuel efficiency and measured annual vehicle miles driven per capita to determine transportation efficiency," reads the study.

Texas scored a 36 out of 50 points for home energy efficiency and 41 points for auto energy efficiency.

The report's experts were asked about federal incentivization of energy efficiency for customers, and all were in agreement that this is key to the future of energy.

"Energy conservation is a big piece that needs to be tackled efficiently for us to make any progress on energy transition. Incentivizing consumers and businesses is necessary but only if there is a clear demonstration of changes in personal and business work/living habits that reduce the energy footprint," says Sanjay Srinivasan, director at EMS Energy Institute and professor at Pennsylvania State University.

Another recent report looked at Texas from the solar perspective, and Houston failed to place in the top 15 most "solar" cities in the United States. However, Austin led the way for Texas, ranking the No. 3 most “solar” city in the U.S., per Thumbtack. Austin, with the highest net-new solar panel installations within the past year in Texas, split up four Californian cities in the top five. Only San Diego (No. 1) and Los Angeles (No. 2) outranked Austin.

While there's room for improvement for efficiency, Texas has among the best prices for energy, as WalletHub found in a report this summer. Texas ranked No. 49 on the list of the 2023 Most Energy-Expensive States.

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

A University of Houston team looked into what areas in Houston had the highest impact on emissions and how certain meteorological factors play into ozone formation. Photo via

A team of researchers at the University of Houston are using machine learning to help guide pollution fighting strategies.

As reported in the journal Environmental Pollution last month, the team used the SHAP algorithm of machine learning (a game theory approach) and the Positive Matrix Factorization to pinpoint what areas in Houston had the highest impact on emissions and how certain meteorological factors play into ozone formation.

The paper was authored by Delaney Nelson, a doctoral student at the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences of UH, and Yunsoo Choi, corresponding author and professor of atmospheric chemistry, AI deep learning, air quality modeling and satellite remote sensing.

The team's research closely tracked nitrogen-based compound and volatile organic compound measurements from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's monitoring stations in the Houston area. After importing measurements from The Lynchburg Ferry station in Houston's ship channel and the urban Milby Park station, the machine learning and SHAP analysis showed a chemically definitive difference between the two areas.

For example, at the industrial station, the most impactful sources of pollution were from oil and gas flaring/production. At the urban site n_decane and industrial emissions/evaporation had the most impact on ozone.

According to Nelson and Choi, this shows that the machine learning and SHAP analysis approach can be used to tailor more precise air quality management strategies in different areas based on the site's unique characteristics.

“Once we know the specific emission sources and factors, we can develop targeted strategies to reduce emissions, which will in turn reduce ozone in the air and make it healthier for everyone," Choi said in a statement.

“Pollution is a critical issue in Houston, where you have extreme high heat and high concentration of ozone in the summers. The types of insights we got are very useful information for the local community to develop effective policies. That’s why we put our time, effort and technological expertise into this project," he continued.

Next the team envisions applying their approach in different cities and across the country.

“Austin, San Antonio and Dallas all have different characteristics, so I expect (volatile organic compound) sources will also be different,” Choi said. “Identifying VOC sources in different cities is very important because each city should have its own unique pollution fighting strategy.”

This summer, the City of Houston released an updated report on its major strategies to combat climate change and build a more resilient future for its residents.

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