energy burden

According to a new report issued by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), rural households across the US spend a disproportionately high share of their income on energy bills.

The report states that rural consumers spend about 40% more than their metropolitan counterparts.

The study was conducted in partnership with the Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA) coalition and finds that the problem is highly evident in the East and Southeast and among low-income households across all regions.

The report ‘High Cost of Energy in Rural America: Household Energy Burdens and Opportunities for Energy Efficiency' is the first to focus on energy burdens carried by rural consumers in the US, according to a statement.

The study findings also include:

  • The percentage of a household’s income spent on home energy bills for air conditioning, heating, lighting, appliances and cooking is 4.4%
  • Low-income consumers have a median energy burden of 9%- three times higher than that of higher-income counterparts
  • In several rural regions, this burden exceeds 15% for one of every four low-income households
  • Factors that can reduce consumer energy burdens include an increase in implementation of energy efficiency policies, the availability of funds to implement upgrades and the availability of efficiency programs and incentives that put energy-saving technologies within reach.
  • Energy efficiency upgrades would help reduce energy burdens by 25% equivalent to reducing an annual energy bill by $400

Rural consumers make up to 16% of all US households and are spread across 72% of the nation’s land area.

Expanding energy efficiency programmes to rural customers would require:

  1. Expanding current low-income programme offerings
  2. Exploring no- and low-risk efficiency financing options
  3. Incorporating regional workforce development initiatives
  4. Building relationships with other area service providers to strengthen programme delivery

An increase in deployment of efficiency programmes would enhance education and employment opportunities, economic development and improve public health.

Lauren Ross, local policy programme director at ACEEE and lead report author, said: ”High energy costs can place a significant financial burden on rural families, forcing them to make difficult trade-offs between paying energy bills and buying food or medicine.

“Compounding the issue, many low- to moderate-income families live in homes that need repairs or improvements to meet basic health and safety standards. Energy efficiency upgrades help to lower energy bills for these families, while also mitigating indoor health risks that can contribute to cases of asthma, respiratory problems, heart disease, arthritis, and rheumatism.”

The report can be downloaded here...