Trinity College Report Finds High Energy Burden in Hartford
Photo credit: Bizzie, Energy Burden in Hartford
Last month, student researchers at the Trinity College Liberal Arts Action Lab (LAAL), prompted by Sierra Club Connecticut’s Hartford Ready For 100 campaign, released a report revealing impacts of energy burden – the percentage of household income spent on energy costs – on residents of Hartford’s Upper Albany neighborhood.
Statewide energy burden is three percent, meaning the average household spends three percent of their income on energy for their home. This number is more than doubled, at a shocking 7.6 percent in areas like Upper Albany and the North End of Hartford, creating severe hardship for residents.
Additionally, the report shows energy burden is higher for those who rent, live in older or draftier homes, and have older appliances. The report also notes that “one of the most documented impacts of energy burden has been how it will create and exacerbate residents’ health issues.” Other challenges noted by community members interviewed for the report include "food insecurity, violence, stress, transportation pollution, and gentrification.” All of these compounding conditions are prevalent in Upper Albany.
Up until recently, utility-run energy efficiency programs, designed to weatherize homes and reduce energy usage, have not prioritized the most energy burdened neighborhoods. This report, Energy Burden in Hartford, is very powerful and I encourage you to check it out.
Students at Trinity interviewed residents to demonstrate personal impacts of these statistics. Quotes from the report include:
“A lot of people from Hartford just stay in Hartford, they don’t move around. A lot of people can’t afford to go anywhere, because they are spending all the money on bills, like the light bill and the gas bill. And gas itself, you know, just to survive. Everybody is on survival mode.”
“I know a lot of people who will turn off every light because they don’t want to have a high light bill. So, I just personally have made the choice to use the energy saving bulbs and keep the light on when I’m watching TV. But um, I know some people do it. Like if you’re in the room, you just turn off the light.”
“Yeah, and like my old building, the electric company sent us something or CRT or something sent us something saying that they would upgrade the apartment for energy efficiency. But in order to have it done, I had to get my landlord to sign the paperwork. And when I brought the paperwork to my landlord, he had these other ideas that some company that his wife was attached to was going to do this work instead. Never happened and I lived there for eight years. And this was the first year that I asked him about it. So I never got the paperwork signed that was required to be signed before they could put energy efficient stuff in my apartment, because the landlord didn’t want to do it. And you know, as far as I’m concerned, if I’m the one paying the gas electric bill, I should be able to have my apartment upgraded without permission from the landlord. Yeah, especially since it’s gonna benefit him in the long run. Right, that’s an improvement to his building.”
Alycia Jenkins is an organizer for Sierra Club Connecticut focusing on our Ready for 100 Campaign in Hartford.