Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Who Has Trouble Staying Warm?

Among the nation's 118 million households, a substantial 31 percent reported having problems paying their energy bills or maintaining adequate heating and/or cooling in their home in 2015, according to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey. The survey defined energy insecurity as experiencing at least one of five heating/cooling problems—reducing or forgoing food or medicine to pay energy costs; leaving the home at an unhealthy temperature; receiving a disconnect or delivery stop notice; unable to use heating equipment; or unable to use cooling equipment.

Most low-income households are energy insecure. Energy insecurity is much greater among low-income Americans. Among households with incomes below $20,000, the 51 percent majority reported being energy insecure in 2015—that is, they experienced at least one of the five problems. The figure fell to 34 percent among households with incomes of $40,000 to $60,000, which is close to the national median. Among households with incomes of $140,000 or more, only 8 percent reported energy insecurity.

Climate doesn't matter. Among households located in very cold/cold climates, 30 percent reported energy insecurity. Among those in hot/humid climates, 34 percent reported energy insecurity.

Insulation cuts the problem in half. Among those who report that their home is well insulated, only 23 are energy insecure. Among those whose homes are poorly insulated, 49 percent are energy insecure.

Mobile homes are the worst. Among those who live in single-family detached homes, 27 percent report being energy insecure. The figure is about the same for those in apartment buildings with five or more units (30 percent). But for those in smaller apartment buildings of two to four units, a much larger 46 percent are energy insecure. For mobile homes, the figure is a whopping 59 percent.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Residential Energy Consumption Survey, One in Three U.S. Households Faced Challenges in Paying Energy Bills in 2015

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