Reimagined Communities

An Overlooked Climate, Health, and Social Crisis: Energy Burden

May 11, 2022

The record high inflation is hurting millions of Americans. While economists expect that the inflation rate will ease a little bit, it does not seem like it will be a significant drop due to supply chain constraints from the COVID-19 surge in Asia and the raging war in Ukraine. The soaring cost of energy is one of the pain points for American consumers. As the summer approaches, electricity rates are expected to increase further, while gasoline prices continue to remain sky high.  

High energy prices hurt the poor the most, who have to decide between putting food to the table or keeping the lights on. A household paying more than 6% of its annual income on utility bills is considered a household with a high energy burden. More than 15 million households in the U.S. spend over 10% of their annual income on energy bills, which means they have a severe energy burden. Often, such a burden is due to waste of energy from poor insulation and inefficient appliances. Sharonda Williams-Tack, Associate Director of the Healthy Communities Campaign at the Sierra Club, explains energy burden and the importance of addressing it if we are serious about cutting energy waste and tackling climate change.

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