Heat Smart has partnerships with public and private organizations from Maine to California.


Today’s Hot Topic: Energy Poverty

  • March 18, 2019
  • Heat Smart

Home energy and housing experts define energy poverty as when energy costs for heat and light add up to more than six to ten percent of household income. But one in four U.S. households struggle with a high energy burden. Data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that people below 50 percent of the poverty level spend roughly 35 percent of their income on home energy bills; while other studies show that burden can be as high as 75 percent in the poorest of neighborhoods.


Low-income renters face even higher hurdles. They’re more likely to have drafty doors and windows, poor insulation, inefficient heating systems, and a landlord unmotivated to change the situation. Which means they have no control over how much energy they need to maintain a comfortable temperature. And that means not being able to keep their family warm on cold nights. These are the homes of 22 million children, individuals with disabilities, and elderly across the country who are more susceptible to the negative health effects of being cold.


Low-cost Heat Smart kits can help make a difference with wool-blend blankets for warmth, weather-stripping to eliminate drafts, and energy tips to enhance conservation.


Heat Smart kits empower low-income families to change their energy use behavior long-term and use less energy, which reduces their energy bill, month after month. At the same time, we help our program partners reach their energy assistance goals and stretch their resources, including Block Grant monies. We’re always looking for new, like-minded partners to work with such as weatherization and energy assistance programs to help reach more low-income families. Are you that partner?


If you’re interested in exploring these ideas more, we’ll be at several conferences this spring: NCAF, HPC and NAIHC. Stop by and see us or contact us any time.

Energy burden higher for those who can least afford it. 

1 in 4 households held back by a high energy burden.

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