The economic impacts of the pandemic and the rising energy costs resulting from the war in Ukraine have revealed just how many Americans cannot afford their household energy costs, and how precarious the situation really is.

Rising Costs Affect Millions of Families

Even a modest increase in energy costs can have a dramatic impact on the tenuous financial stability of low income households already stretched thin. Consider that before the pandemic, more than 37 million households (or more than 30% of all US households) were “cost burdened,” a federal term meaning that they spent more than 30% of their income on housing. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average energy burden for low income households is 8.6%. That is three times higher than for non-low income households, which is about 3% . And according to the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at University of Pennsylvania, more than one-third of US households are experiencing “energy poverty,” having difficulty affording the energy they need to keep the lights on and heat and cool their home.

Millions of American families are affected by the rising cost of energy and housing, and there are clear socioeconomic and racial disparities. Low income households are disproportionally affected by housing and energy prices, and Black and Hispanic households are affected more heavily than white households. The financial […]