Energy Insecure Households Billed at a Higher Rate, EIA Says

Published: June 6, 2023

By: Concentric Staff Writer

“Energy insecure” households in the U.S. were billed at a higher rate for energy than other households in 2020, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Households identified as “energy insecure”—those in which there is an inability to meet basic energy needs and there are challenges in purchasing adequate energy—were billed 20 cents more per square foot than the national average of $1.04 per square foot, EIA said. Energy insecure households were also billed at 26 cents more per square foot than houses that are not energy insecure.

“Household energy expenditures are influenced by many factors, including weather, the types of energy sources used, household behavior, and the energy-consuming space (or square footage) of the home,” EIA said May 30. “Energy insecure households are more likely to report their homes are drafty, poorly or not insulated, and smaller than households that did not experience energy insecurity.”

EIA said its Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) uses energy insecurity as a measure to identify households that have received a disconnection notice, have reduced or foregone basic necessities to pay bills, kept their houses at unsafe temperatures to reduce costs, or have been unable to repair cooling or heating equipment because of cost.

Data from the survey showed that in 2020, households making less than $10,000 per year were billed at a rate of $1.31 per square foot for energy while households with incomes higher than $100,000 were billed at $1.21 per square foot. Survey respondents in rented homes were billed 28 cents more across all energy sources than owners were. The EIA said that “differences greater than $0.05 per square foot are statistically significant at the 5% level, meaning that there’s a less than 5% chance that the difference is explainable by chance alone.”

The 2020 RECS collected data from about 19,000 households, the largest sample in its history, the agency said, and for the first time the data is available at the state level in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

All views expressed by the author are solely the author’s current views and do not reflect the views of Concentric Energy Advisors, Inc., its affiliates, subsidiaries, or related companies. The author’s views are based upon information the author considers reliable at the time of publication. However, neither Concentric Energy Advisors, Inc., nor its affiliates, subsidiaries, and related companies warrant the information’s completeness or accuracy, and it should not be relied upon as such.

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