Carnegie Mellon University

To examine how household energy insecurity is experienced by different demographic groups at the state and national levels

  • Amount $577,598
  • City Pittsburgh, PA
  • Investigator Destenie Nock
  • Year 2022
  • Program Research
  • Sub-program Energy and Environment

This grant funds a study by a multidisciplinary team of scholars, led by Destenie Nock of Carnegie Mellon University, that will deploy various research methodologies to examine three aspects of household energy insecurity across multiple states. The first dimension to be studied is to better understand the energy-limiting behavior often employed by marginalized and low-income households to better afford energy services. Analyzing detailed household energy use data across three states (Arizona, Illinois, and a mid-Atlantic state), the team will further develop a new energy insecurity metric—called the “energy equity gap”—which indicates the point at which households across different income and demographic groups turn on air conditioning during hot days (or, conversely, turn on heating during cold days). This metric will help identify hidden forms of energy insecurity that are often hard to assess, or are typically ignored, in more traditional measures of energy use and well-being. Second, the team will undertake a case study that will examine the effectiveness of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the Weatherization Assistance Program, and other state-level programs designed to help low-income households pay their energy bills. Team members will analyze over a decade’s-worth of household data from these programs, focusing on the state of Minnesota, to identify the extent that eligible households do or do not take advantage of these programs. Third, the team will develop a publicly available dashboard of utility disconnection policies from across the country to enable researchers to begin to compare and analyze intra- and inter-state differences in such policies and their subsequent effects on energy insecurity.

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