Low-Income Programs

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.

For more information on urban energy burdens see the 2016 ACEEE report. For more information on rural energy burdens, see the 2018 ACEEE report.

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.

For information on state level and local utility level low-income energy efficiency policies, see the ACEEE State and Local database.

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

Overview documents

Leading reports and white papers

Fact sheets

Tool kits

Blog posts