Which is better? If you live in the North part of the country, most of your energy costs go towards heating your home for the larger part of the year. If you live in the South, that money goes to cooling instead. So what climate is the most energy efficient? The answer might surprise you.
First, consider that depending upon the region and the local climate, the source of the energy to cool or heat a home can be drastically different. In the North, oil is often used for heating, but that really isn't a great solution in the South for much shorter season where heat is rarely needed. Electricity has a higher price point in the North for heat, but it the most frequently used energy source for cooling. The bottom line is, you have to look at regions individually, taking into account the length of seasons, whether your long season is heating or cooling, and then the cost and efficiency of your fuel type. To do a kind of quick and dirty study, I compared a few states with different climates. First, let's look at Maine. Below is a graph depicting the energy usage for heating and cooling as compared to the national average:
Here is the same chart for Florida:
If you are to sum up the measure depicted, just for a one year period (FEB2016 through JAN2017), you get 4,371 degree days for Florida, while totaling a whopping 7,519 degree days for Maine. Here are several states compared to the national average:
As shown, the relatively warm and Southern states of Florida and Arizona are below the national average, while Michigan and Maine are significantly higher in degree days. Kansas, right in the middle, was relatively close to the national average.
In short, running that air conditioner turns out to be a lot less than cranking up the heater. That is a win for the warmer states. That, and you don't have to shovel sunshine!
Source: U.S. Department of Energy, http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/sled/#/