Energy Burden, Energy Insecurity and Energy Poverty: have been used interchangeably, but for our purposes we will use Energy Burden.
High Energy Burden: when a household spends more than 10% of their annual household income on energy utilities
heating and cooling systems
plumbing and electrical systems
Inefficient building insulation and energy technology can cause...
...difficulties regulating home temperature, which can cause...
overwhelming energy bills
exposure to extreme temperatures
"Heat of Eat" dilemma:
Households experiencing financial hardship have to prioritize their basic needs
If utilities are prioritized below food and medicine...
households fall behind on utility payments
develop large amounts of debt
risk electricity and gas shut-offs
There are many reasons why a household is experiencing an energy burden, ranging from unstable employment to billing issues to a fixed income to seasonal variations of energy bills.
Behavioral strategies used to cope and counteract the economic and physical barriers of a high energy burden
limit energy consumption to minimize costs
Improve insulation (those who can afford the improvements)
Using space heaters to compensate for leaky insulation
Some methods result in higher energy costs
Energy assistance: limited funds, short term relief that doesn't address the chronic nature of an energy burden
Health and Safety Risks
Using oven/stove for heat
Shut-offs: using survival skills such as preparing and storing food without energy.