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



Infrastructure Limitations


  • heating and cooling systems

  • plumbing and electrical systems

  • inefficient appliances

  • lightbulbs


  • walls

  • floors

  • roof

  • doors

  • windows

Inefficient building insulation and energy technology can cause...

...difficulties regulating home temperature, which can cause...

  1. overwhelming energy bills

  2. exposure to extreme temperatures



"Heat of Eat" dilemma:

Households experiencing financial hardship have to prioritize their basic needs

  1. If utilities are prioritized below food and medicine...

  2. households fall behind on utility payments

  3. develop large amounts of debt

  4. 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

      Positive results

  • limit energy consumption to minimize costs

  • Improve insulation (those who can afford the improvements)

       Mixed Results

  • 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.