As the leaves turn and the temperature drops, many people worry about the cost of home heating.

Ariel Drehobl of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy says that for low-income families, it can cause stress around figuring out how to pay your bills and a tradeoff between keeping your heat on and being able to afford other necessities like food, medication, and things for your children.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy recently studied how much of their income Americans spend on energy.

“We found that low-income households in urban areas experience energy burdens three times as high as non-low-income households, and we’ve seen the same story in rural areas as well,” Drehobl says. “This shows that energy costs are not currently equitable and affordable for all households in this country.”

Weatherizing a home can help, and there are utility and federal programs to help offset the costs.

But to prevent disparities, Drehobl says low-income communities need to be informed about these programs. States should also set goals and track how many low-income residents participate.

“It’s really important for energy to be affordable for all families in the country in order to maintain health and economic prosperity,” she says.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.