Learn More on Energy Insecurity
Also known as energy poverty, fuel poverty, and energy vulnerability, energy insecurity is a multidimensional construct that is the interplay between household energy expenditures, the physical conditions of housing, and energy-related coping behaviors. Overall, energy insecurity is defined as the inability of a household to meet its basic heating, cooling, and energy needs over time.1
- Presentation of Maricopa County Project Summary with Supporting Data 2022 (PDF)
- Statistics of Energy Burden in Phoenix
- Overview of Energy Burden in U.S.
- Understanding “energy insecurity” and why it matters to health
|Physical||Housing age, housing type, heating and cooling system, infrastructure quality, location, and climate|
|Socioeconomic||Low income, sudden economic hardship, Inability to afford investments in better energy efficiency, systemic inequalities such as income, disability, and/or race|
|Behavioral||Coping behaviors when facing energy insecurity, barrier of knowledge to energy conservation methods, barrier to education programs and investing/saving|
|Policy Related||Inaccessible or insufficient policies or programs relating to energy security|
Why Energy Insecurity is Important to Address
Consequences of residential energy insecurity span from health to poverty. Especially in Maricopa County, an outcome is increased vulnerability to extreme heat. While 82% of indoor heat deaths had an A/C unit at the time of death, 69% of the A/C’s were non-functioning, and 31% were not in use, according to 2020 Maricopa County heat data. Energy insecurity often occurs in conjunction with food insecurity and housing insecurity - an outcome in which residents are more likely to remain in poverty. It can also catalyze residents into poverty and the potential for eviction by a landlord. Direct health consequences include the use of unsafe lighting and heating sources which may expose people to carbon monoxide and other unsafe conditions.
Who is affected by energy insecurity & what are the communities/populations that are disproportionately affected?
- Low-income: with older adults (65+), with disability, below 200% federal poverty line, with children
- Black and Hispanic
- Older adults (65+)
- Low-income multifamily
Energy burden is the percentage of income spent on residential energy bills and is a way for researchers to determine the pervasiveness of potential energy insecurity in communities. High energy burden is considered 6% and above of income spent on home energy bills annually, and severe energy burden is above 10%.
- Hernández, D. (2016). Understanding “energy insecurity” and why it matters to health. Social Science & Medicine, 167, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.08.029
- Drehobl, A., Ross, L., & Ayala, R. (n.d.). An Assessment of National and Metropolitan Energy Burden across the United States SEPTEMBER 2020 How High Are Household Energy Burdens? https://www.aceee.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/u2006.pdf