Energy Efficiency Jobs Climb in the Southwest

Number of workers outstrip all other energy sectors

Energy Efficiency Jobs Climb in the Southwest

As of 2017, there were 127,750 jobs focused on improving energy efficiency in the Southwest region (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming) according to the newly released 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Report. Moreover, energy efficiency remains the top sector for energy jobs in the Southwest, ahead of oil and natural gas production, electric power generation, and other energy supply sectors covered in the report.


The chart below shows the number of energy efficiency jobs by state in 2016 and 2017. The number of energy efficiency jobs increased in all states other than Utah, with the biggest increases in Colorado followed by Arizona and Nevada. Overall, the region added 5,000 energy efficiency-related jobs in 2017.   


Public policies and other initiatives aimed at improving energy efficiency yield many benefits—they save consumers and businesses money, reduce pollutant emissions, improve public health, and employ many workers. Energy efficiency jobs might not be as visible as those in power plants or in the fossil fuel industries, but they are real and increasing in number. 


Energy efficiency jobs include construction or installation of energy-efficient equipment or materials, manufacturing of energy-efficient heating, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) products, manufacturing of energy-efficiency lighting and ENERGY STAR appliances, and distribution and sales of energy-efficient products or services.


Not only are energy efficiency jobs growing in number, they are not subject to “boom-and-bust” cycles like fossil fuels. Increasing energy efficiency is more labor-intensive (and less capital-intensive) than supplying energy from new power plants, coal mines, or oil and natural gas wells. In addition, the jobs are often created by small businesses, meaning energy efficiency lends itself to entrepreneurship.


The 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Report was sponsored by the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the Energy Futures Initiative, two nonprofit organizations.  The 2018 report used the same methodology that the U.S. Department of Energy used in preparing the 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report.  

Howard Geller is the Executive Director of SWEEP, a public interest venture he founded in 2001. Howard also leads SWEEP’s work on utility energy efficiency policy and programs.