Episode 166: Can we help low-income families use less electricity?

electricity

Casey Canfield, a recent PhD graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s Engineering and Public Policy Department, discusses the challenges for low-income families to use less electricity and solutions to the issue.

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Learn More

Energy Burden and the Need for Integrated Low-Income Housing and Energy Policy from Diana Hernández and Stephen Bird

“Because You Got to Have Heat”: The Networked Assemblage of Energy Poverty in Eastern North Carolina from Connor Harrison and Jeff Popke

Power for the People: Overcoming Barriers to Energy Efficiency for Low-Income Families from ThinkProgress

Transcript

HOST: What are the challenges for low-income families to use less electricity? On this week’s Energy Bite, Casey Canfield, a recent PhD graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

CASEY:  Low-income families often spend a disproportionate amount of their income on energy costs. They may be motivated to use less electricity, but may not have the same capacity to change their usage. For example, people with low incomes tend to live in older homes, which are not as efficient and are expensive to heat or cool. Having a home with inadequate heating or cooling can lead to health problems.

HOST: Is there anything that can be done about this?

CASEY: There are government programs to help low-income families afford electricity, but not everyone is eligible or able to sign up.  There is some interest in implementing incentive programs that adjust the price of electricity depending on the time of day to encourage less use of energy during peak times. Unfortunately, this could increase the electricity bills of low-income families because they already use less electricity so they have fewer options to shift their usage to respond to the price.

HOST: Do you find investing in energy efficiency actions for your home challenging? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

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