Energy Affordability

While many families struggle to afford their energy bills, energy affordability remains a national, state, and local priority across the country. In 2017, about one-fourth of all Americans and more than two-thirds of low-income households had a high energy burden, which means they spent more than 6% of income on energy bills. This means that many households can benefit from policies and programs to lower bills through reduced energy use and improved household energy efficiency. For more information, see our topic brief on Understanding Energy Affordability.

ACEEE has written reports chronicling energy burdens in metro and rural areas. Our research has consistently found that households with lower incomes, communities of color, elderly households, renters, and multifamily building residents tend to have higher energy burdens, on average, than other households. Energy efficiency programs—such as those offered by utilities, states, and local governments—can help reduce energy use and alleviate high energy burdens. Below are the high level findings from the energy burden studies.

Findings from ACEEE’s 2016 urban energy burden study,

Findings from ACEEE’s 2018 rural energy burden study,

View Additional Energy Burden Research


ACEEE resources on energy affordability include:
  • Topic Brief, September 2019, Understanding Energy Affordability
  • Report, July 2018: The High Cost of Energy in Rural America
  • Report, April 2016: Lifting the High Energy Burden in America’s Largest Cities
  • Fact Sheet, October 2018: “Alleviating Rural Energy Burdens through Energy Efficiency”
  • Blog, September 2019: “Listen up, 2020 candidates: Energy affordability is a major problem”
  • Blog, April 2019: “Efficiency reduces energy burdens for low-income multifamily households”
  • Blog, July 2016: “America’s Transportation Energy Burden for Low-Income Families”
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