Cool or school?: the role of building attributes in explaining residential energy burdens in California
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This paper quantifies the dimensions of an important energy efficiency conversation: the energy burden of low-income households. Due to budgetary constraints, low-income households face a stark consumption trade-offs described as “cool or school”. This study is the first to apply multivariate building energy regression modeling to assess the independent effects of various building characteristics and appliances on a household’s energy burden in the USA. We find that more attic insulation and newer air conditioners significantly predict lower energy burdens. Furthermore, homeowners enjoy ~ 27% more attic insulation compared to renters. Our results offer empirical support for programs that offer deep retrofits to low-income households. We conclude by offering suggestions for leveraging weatherization funding to fund building energy retrofits.
KeywordsEnergy consumption Energy conservation Energy efficiency policy Policy implementation Weatherization Housing Poverty Social justice
American Reinvestment and Recovery Act
Demand side management
Home energy renovation Opportunity
Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program
Property assessed clean energy
Residential Appliance Saturation Survey
Single family residence
Weatherization Assistance Program
We would like to thank the participants in the 2014 Western Political Science Association annual meeting for their comments on an earlier version of this paper. This research was partially funded under California Energy Commission Public Interest Energy Research grant # 57356A/11-1. The sponsors played no part in the study design; collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; writing of the article; or the decision to submit for publication.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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