It’s no surprise that household energy expenditures put a considerable burden on low- to middle-income families, and a study correlated this impact by measuring the correlation between income and morbidity due to extreme heat or cold.


The Centers for Disease Control and Protection published the results of the study that analyzed data between 2006 and 2010. The study analyzed morbidity rates due simply to extreme temperatures. They found that counties throughout the U.S. that had the highest quartile of incomes had the lowest rates of death due to excessive temperature swings.


It’s no surprise that lower income households have more difficulty managing comfort issues. Energy costs as a percentage of after-tax income for households making less than $30,000 annually climbed from 16 percent in 2001 to 23 percent in 2009. Contrast that to households with incomes over $50,000 that paid five percent of the after-tax income in 2001 and seven percent in 2009.


Low income households are also the least able to afford the home improvements that would help them save, like increasing home insulation, installing more energy efficient windows, or replacing an existing HVAC system with one that’s more efficient.


Some local jurisdictions, utility providers and even states offer incentives for which low-income households may be able to quality to help offset the cost of improvements. Many utility providers also offer tips for home energy savings. One of the primary goals of Energy Savers That Work is to help homeowners and renters alike discover ways to energy bills without making a major sacrifice in comfort. 

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Comment by jackie harsha on June 6, 2016 at 6:17pm

Thanks, Barbara. That link you cited was the exact information I used. I included the link, but didn't realize it dropped off from my paste from Word. 

Comment by Barbara Smith on June 6, 2016 at 10:08am

I think this is the Link to paper cited above

* 10,649 deaths were attributed to weather-related causes in the United States during 2006–2010.

* Two-thirds were attributed to excessive natural cold.

* Older persons, males, and non-Hispanic black persons had higher weather-related mortality rates.

* Weather-related death rates were 2 to 7 times as high in low-income counties as in high-income counties.

* These results may indicate that lower-income areas have fewer resources to prepare for and adapt to extreme weather events (e.g., insufficient infrastructure to deal with blizzard conditions).

* It is also possible that individuals with lower incomes in weather-struck areas lack adaptive measures (e.g., heating), thereby making them more susceptible to weather-related mortality.

* The number of deaths attributed to weather is likely underreported.

* Rural and urban places have different characteristics.

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