Topic Brief

Combined Energy Burdens: Estimating Total Home and Transportation Energy Burdens

May 13, 2024

Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, this report presents findings from an analysis of combined energy burdens, which includes expenditures on both home and transportation energy as a share of income. Energy costs are not experienced in isolation: measuring combined energy burdens provides a more comprehensive understanding of a household’s true overall energy burden. As families switch to electric vehicles, or take on longer commutes in order to access more affordable housing, evaluating combined energy burdens will be essential to tracking the overall energy affordability for U.S. households. This analysis is the first of its kind to rely on a single survey to estimate combined energy burdens.

Key findings 

  • Combined energy burdens include both home energy and transportation fuel costs as a share of income in order to provide a holistic picture of household energy expenditure.  
  • In 2022, U.S. households spent on average 5.6% of their income on energy, with transportation fuel making up over half of this spending.
  • Low-income households spent on average 17.8% of their income on energy alone, almost four times the national average.  
  • Roughly one in four households experienced high combined energy burdens (spent more than 12% of their income just on energy) and a staggering three in four low-income households experienced high combined burdens.  

  • Rural households had an average combined burden nearly 50% higher than urban households. 

  • Black households spent on average 6% of their income on energy, roughly 10% above the national average. 

  • Hispanic households spent on average 7.9% of their income on energy, roughly 42% above the national average. 

  • The increasing adoption of electric vehicles will cause home electric energy burdens to increase while decreasing transportation fuel burdens, making the tracking of combined energy burdens more important. 

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This Article Was About

Transportation System Efficiency Homes and Multifamily Buildings Energy Equity


Aimee Bell-Pasht
Senior Research Associate, Federal Policy Program
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