Fuel poverty, the inability of households to afford adequate energy services, such as heating, is a major energy justice concern. Increasing residential energy efficiency is a strategic fuel poverty intervention. However, the absence of easily accessible household energy data impedes effective targeting of energy efficiency programs. This paper uses publicly available data, bottom-up modeling and small-area estimation techniques to predict the mean census block group residential heating energy use intensity (EUI), an energy efficiency proxy, in Kansas City, Missouri. Results mapped using geographic information systems (GIS) and statistical analysis, show disparities in the relationship between heating EUI and spatial, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic block group characteristics. Block groups with lower median incomes, a greater percentage of households below poverty, a greater percentage of racial/ethnic minority headed-households, and a larger percentage of adults with less than a high school education were, on average, less energy efficient (higher EUIs). Results also imply that racial segregation, which continues to influence urban housing choices, exposes Black and Hispanic households to increased fuel poverty vulnerability. Lastly, the spatial concentration and demographics of vulnerable block groups suggest proactive, area- and community-based targeting of energy efficiency assistance programs may be more effective than existing self-referral approaches.
CSS Publication Number:
Reames, Tony. (2016) "Targeting energy justice: Exploring spatial, racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in urban residential heating energy efficiency." Energy Policy 97: 549-558.