The High Cost of Energy in Rural America: Household Energy Burdens and Opportunities for Energy Efficiency

Research Report U1806


Lauren Ross, Ariel Drehobl, Brian Stickles


In this report, ACEEE and the Energy Efficiency for All coalition examine residential energy affordability in rural and small-town America and identify energy efficiency as an underutilized strategy that can help reduce energy burdens by as much as 25%. We analyze how rural energy burdens―the percentage of household income spent on energy bills―vary across regions and among specific groups. We find that low-income, nonwhite, elderly, and renter households, as well as residents of multifamily and manufactured housing, spend a greater proportion of their income on utilities than the average family. We conclude by describing policies and programs to ramp up energy efficiency investments in rural and small-town communities.