April 28, 2016 | How Energy Efficiency Can Improve Low Income and Underserved Communities

Lifting the High Energy Burden in America's Largest Cities

A review of 48 major U.S. metropolitan areas finds that low-income households devote up to three times as much income to energy costs as average households in the same city, and that energy efficiency is critical to closing the gap.

The report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and EEFA analyzes data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 and 2013 American Housing Survey to determine energy burden values for 48 of the largest U.S. Cities. On average, low-income households pay 7.2 percent of household income on utilities—more than twice as much as the median household and three times as much as higher income households.

If low-income housing stock were brought up to the efficiency level of the average U.S. home, this would eliminate 35 percent of the average low-income energy burden of low-income households. The second half of the report focuses on strategies for alleviating high energy burdens including policies and programs to increase the impact of energy efficiency initiatives in these communities.

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