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Winter Heating Costs and Older and Low-Income Households - February 2011

Energy Cost Analysis Methodology

The Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) is a national statistical survey that collects energy-related data for occupied primary housing units; the most recent survey was conducted in 2005. RECS provides information on the use of energy in residential housing units in the United States, including demographic characteristics of the household, energy consumption and expenditures for natural gas, electricity, fuel oil, and other fuel types, as well as other information that relates to energy use.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is the statistical agency of the U.S. Department of Energy and produces energy data, analysis and forecasting. EIA issues weekly, monthly and annual reports on energy production and prices, demand, imports, and others, and prepares analyses and special reports on topics of current interest. The Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO) is a monthly publication of the EIOA and contains current and projected prices of fuel, including natural gas, fuel oil, electricity, and petroleum.

This data digest uses variables from both the RECS survey and the most recent Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO) to analyze past heating-related energy consumption and expenditures among consumers age 65 and older, and to project heating-related energy consumption and expenditures for the most recent winter season.



[1] Burden, or energy burden, represents the portion of household income needed to meet projected winter heating costs. For purposes of the table above burden is estimated by dividing the median income for each income group in Table 1 by the average projected fuel cost for each income group.

[2] For a detailed explanation of the LIHEAP Program see: The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program: A Critical Resource for Low-Income Households

[3] J. Fahey, Home Heating Assistance at Record High, Associated Press. February 9, 2011.


Written by Ann McLarty Jackson and Neal Walters
AARP Public Policy Institute
601 E St., NW
Washington, DC 20049
February, 2011

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