Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency can ease the low-income burden


infographic on energy burden

The average US household pays $1,411.80 for electricity each year.1

That is:

  • 2.2% of the median household income in the US.
  • 5.5% of the income of a family of four who live at the poverty level
  • 11.7% of the income an individual over 65 who lives at the poverty level2

This is also known as a household’s energy burden. The average energy burden for low-income households is 8.2%.3

Energy burden increases for those who:

  • Live in older, draftier homes
  • Have older, less efficient appliances
  • Rent instead of own their home

This means inefficiency costs low-income households more.

Average cost of utilities per square foot4

  • Low-income households: $1.41
  • Non-low-income households: $1.17

More than 38 million people in the US live at or below the poverty line, and 30% of Americans live in low-income households.5

Efficiency improvements such as insulation, lighting, and appliances can make a big impact.

13% to 31% potential electricity savings from efficiency improvements in low-income households.6

This means big savings that last.

Weatherization and efficiency upgrades saved households on average $283 every year.


Compare the energy burden for people in your area to other communities, your state, or the country with DOE’s Low-Income Energy Affordability Data Tool