The High Cost of Energy in Rural America: Household Energy Burdens and Opportunities for Energy Efficiency

In this report we examine residential energy affordability in rural and small-town America. We analyze how rural household energy burdens—the percentage of household income spent on energy bills—vary across regions and among specific groups. Overall, Americans living in rural areas spend a disproportionally high share of their income on energy bills. Rural households have a median energy burden of 4.4%, compared to the national burden of 3.3%. Rural low-income households are even worse off, shouldering a median energy burden almost three times greater than the burden faced by their higher-income counterparts. Other rural residents hit particularly hard include the elderly, nonwhite, and renting households, and those living in multifamily or manufactured homes. The problem is most glaring in the East and Southeast.

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