In decline just about everywhere else, the South was the only region to have seen substantial gains in residential oil use. Texas (84.6%) had the greatest increase in oil use of any state by far, with Arkansas (36.75) and Oklahoma (35.7%) rounding out the top three. In both Texas and Oklahoma, oil grew the fastest of any fuel source. In Arkansas, it finished second to electricity (48.2%).
The Northeastern United States experienced some of the biggest shifts in natural gas and propane use over the past ten years. Maine (44.8%), New Hampshire (39.4%) and Connecticut (27.1%) currently lead the U.S. in residential propane growth, and Vermont also ranks second among the states where natural gas is rising the fastest. In each of these New England states, however, wood still remains the fastest growing source of residential heating fuel.
Other than Vermont, gas heating rose the most in Nevada (51%) and Idaho (41.1%). Propane use saw large increases in Pennsylvania (22.2%) and Washington (21.1%), in addition to the aforementioned New England states.
Unlike wood and propane, the large increase of electricity in the U.S. is not confined to any particular geographic region. The states with the three biggest increases were Georgia (54.7%), Iowa (49.5%) and South Dakota (49.2%).
Wood heat use grew fastest in the Northeast and Great Lake States, and fell in most of the south. If history is any lesson, the South may rise again, and heating demographics will continue to provide a fascinating and often surprising growth trends.
Changes in rank
In addition to regional growth rates, state ranking of primary heating fuel use is another lens through which we can understand the growth of wood heat. In 2000, wood was among top the top four heating fuels in 26 states, exceeding at least propane or oil. In 2010, wood was among the top four fuels in 33 states.
In 2000, wood was the third most common heating fuel in two states (Oregon and Idaho), exceeding propane and oil. In 2010, it was the third most common fuel in five states (Idaho, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia).
Finally, in 2000 and 2010, wood was the second most common heating fuel in one state (Maine) after heating oil.
Wood is not the most common heating fuel in any state, and it is unlikely that it ever will be – or ever should be.