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Lifting the High Energy Burden in America's Largest Cities

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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.

Energy Efficiency for All, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
Energy Equity
Efficiency Potential

Recent Resources

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Voters support a range of measures to improve energy efficiency and are even willing to pay to do so. They also support programs dedicated to helping renters and people of limited incomes.

In this report we examine residential energy affordability in rural and small-town America. We analyze how rural household energy burdens—the percentage of household income spent on energy bills—vary across regions and among specific groups.