The Mayor's Challenge
Energy Burden (EB) is a critical issue facing many Pittsburgh homeowners. Pittsburgh is ranked 6th in the nation for resident households struggling with EB and 2nd among minority households. Through our work with our Sister City, Glasgow, we’ve found that EB is not unique to the US, but recognized internationally as Fuel Poverty. Fuel Poverty is when an individual pays a disproportionally high amount of their income towards a home's operational utilities. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) reports that, on average, low-income households pay 7.2% of household income on utilities — that's more than twice the 3% median of mid to high-income households.
Due to generations of older, leaky homes, though PA has some of the lowest utility rates in the country, our homeowners are paying some of the highest bills and literally sending their hard-earned money out the single-paned window. A 2017 study determined that at the intersection of fuel poverty and health, there is a higher incidence of poor physical and mental health amongst energy burdened populations linking EB as an indicator of other preventable issues such as lead, radon, asbestos and mold exposure.
As part of the Bloomberg Mayor's Challenge, Pittsburgh created SwitchPGH and took a deep dive into the state of residential energy use and the critical needs of our local homeowners.