As more utilities look at prepay plans, new research finds this option carries both benefits and potential risks. While it may put at risk the wellbeing of some customers trying to save money, it can also lower electricity use and garner customer satisfaction.
Energy efficiency programs save an average of more than $100 in utility bills for low-income households living in multifamily buildings, helping many of them pay their bills on time and avoid service disconnections, according to an ACEEE survey of 32 programs across the United States.
In rural South Carolina, Maxine Stroman struggled to pay her energy bills. Her husband had recently died, leaving her the sole source of income for their two young children. “I had to make some choices on whether to pay my high energy bill or cut back on my grocery bill or cut back on other day-to-day necessities,” she said.
Hardest-hit groups are low-income households and those in the East and Southeast; energy efficiency can help
Energy efficiency programs are especially important for low-income customers. Well-designed programs can help relieve the significant energy burdens faced by low-income families and also provide benefits like increased comfort and healthier homes. But getting these programs right takes careful planning.
Energy efficiency retrofits for entire homes and buildings can substantially reduce energy bills for low-income and multifamily residents. These upgrades can also keep families in their homes by helping them avoid eviction, get through storms, and live longer and healthier lives.
Washington, DC—As more states struggle with extreme weather events, the 2017 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard gives state-level policymakers a road map for building stronger and more-resilient communities. This 11th annual report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), released today, shows which states are doing the best on energy efficiency — a critical tool for withstanding and recovering from storms and economic shocks.
Southeastern residents currently face historically high poverty rates, and low-income households spend an average of three times as much on energy bills, as a portion of their monthly income, than other families. Energy efficiency investments could help lower energy bills, but low-income residents in the region often lack access to energy-saving upgrades.
Many urban residents today can choose from a wide range of travel options. Public buses and trains, car-sharing options like Zipcar, on-demand ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, and bike-share programs are available in major cities. However, many of these options are not widely available in low-income neighborhoods because they can be physically inaccessible or unaffordable to their residents.