Households with lower incomes may experience financial burdens due to high energy bills. These households tend to be older and typically have older and less efficient appliances and heating/cooling equipment, and other structural issues within the home that may lead to energy waste. Households who spend a large portion of their income on their energy bills experience high energy burdens. These high burdens can cause families to make difficult tradeoffs between food, medicine, keeping the lights on, and other basic necessities.
Energy efficiency can help lower household energy use and energy burdens over the long term. Many utilities offer energy efficiency programs, funded through ratepayer dollars, for low-income households that help address energy affordability through building upgrades. ACEEE’s work supports research and policy efforts toward equitably improving and expanding energy efficiency services and technologies for low-income households.
Some states have specific spending and savings requirements for programs serving the low-income sector. In addition, many ratepayer-funded programs coordinate with other energy assistance programs, such as weatherization and bill assistance. This coordination can allow ratepayer funded programs to leverage state and federal funding, such as the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Importantly, low-income programs are often about more than just saving energy. These programs offer many multiple benefits to participants, such as improved home health, comfort, and safety, more affordable energy, job creation, and economic investment.
For more information on low-income multifamily programs, see the Multifamily Energy Savings Project.
To learn more about ACEEE’s low-income energy efficiency research and low-income utility working group, contact Ariel Drehobl, ACEEE Senior Research Analyst, at (202) 507-4038 or via contact form.
ACEEE Low-Income Related Resources
Leading reports and white papers
- The New Leaders of the Pack: ACEEE’s Fourth National Review of Exemplary Energy Efficiency Programs, January 2019
- The High Cost of Energy in Rural America: Household Energy Burdens and Opportunities for Energy Efficiency, July 2018
- Making a Difference: Strategies for Successful Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs, October 2017
- Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs: A Baseline Assessment of Programs Serving the 51 Largest Cities, July 2017
- Lifting the High Energy Burden in America’s Largest Cities: How Energy Efficiency Can Improve Low-Income and Underserved Communities, April 2016
- Building Better Energy Efficiency Programs for Low-Income Households, March 2016
- Reducing Up-front Costs for Rural Energy Efficiency Projects, May 2019
- Alleviating Rural Energy Burdens through Energy Efficiency, October 2018
- Energy Efficiency in Southeastern Low-Income Households, August 2017
- Efficiency reduces energy burdens for low-income multifamily households, April 2019
- Energy efficiency helps rural households afford energy bills, August 2018
- Here’s how Southeastern states can reduce the energy burden of low-income households, August 2017
- Utility programs can help low-income customers keep the lights on, but some do better than others, July 2017
- Energy efficiency budget cuts could exact hefty price on businesses, workers, rural residents, and low-income families, March 2017
- America’s Transportation Energy Burden for Low-Income Families, July 2016
- Explaining the unique energy burdens of low-income households, May 2016