A new study confirms what many affordable housing advocates and urban planners have known for years: Energy expenses impact low-income households much more than middle-class or wealthy Americans.
The report, Lifting the High Energy Burdens in America’s Largest Cities: How Energy Efficiency Can Improve Low-Income and Underserved Communities, offers new insight into the hardships faced by urban low-income households—including African-American and Latino households and renters in multifamily buildings—all of whom pay a disproportionate amount of their income for energy. The study by the Energy Efficiency for All project and the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy looks at the energy burdens in 48 large U.S. cities and casts a spotlight on the opportunities to use efficiency to reduce them.
Khalil Shahyd, a project manager for NRDC’s Urban Solutions sums up the findings:
Low-income households—many of whom live in older housing with poor ventilation and aging, inefficient appliances and heating systems—spend, on average, 7.2 percent of their income on utility bills, which amounts to about $1,700 annually out of $25,000 in median household income. That is more than triple the 2.3 percent spent by higher-income households for electricity, heating and cooling.