News Analysis

Energy Impoverishment: What It Is and How to Fix It

Low-income families have high energy burdens despite programs designed to help. A new study looks at solutions.

U.S. households with low median incomes (LMI) spend 14.5% of their paychecks on energy for heating, cooling, and appliances—almost double the percentage spent by non-LMI families—according to a Groundswell study conducted by data scientist Elvis Moleka, Ph.D. This higher energy burden exists despite programs designed to address it, which, according to the analysis, “are underfunded and only reach a portion of qualified households.”

In fact, a large majority of LMI families are “energy impoverished,” says Moleka, meaning that they spend more than 11% of their income on heating and cooling. Finding that the greatest energy impoverishment for LMI households exists in northern New England and the southeast, the study notes that rural families and minority families bear the greatest burdens.

Published December 6, 2021

Melton, P. (2021, November 18). Energy Impoverishment: What It Is and How to Fix It. Retrieved from