Energy Insecurity Is Underappreciated Social and Environmental Determinant of Health

In light of climate change and the impending transition to clean energy, many long-standing programs to address energy insecurity need to be refreshed. A new paper published online in the journal Health Affairs(link is external and opens in a new window) provides growing documentation of the connections between energy insecurity and poor health. The paper, by JPB Fellow Diana Hernandez, PhD, associate professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, also offers an overview of current policy initiatives and discusses ways that current policies can be improved upon.

The average U.S. household allocates 3.1 percent of its income to energy expenses but for low-income households, this figure is upward of 8.1 percent, according to Hernandez. “This financial hardship often means that for low-income households there are fewer financial resources available for other basic needs such as housing, food, clothing, child care, medical expenses, digital access, and transportation.” Read more.