Unaffordable home energy bills pose a serious and increasing threat to the health and well-being of a growing number of older people in low- and moderate-income households. For many of these households, high and volatile home energy prices jeopardize the use of home heating and cooling and increase the prospect of exposure to temperatures that are too hot in summer and too cold in winter. The potential consequences of exposure to such temperatures and related financial pressures include a host of adverse health outcomes, such as chronic health conditions made worse, food insecurity, and even the premature death of thousands of people in the United States each year.
In this report, Lynne Page Snyder of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association and Christopher Baker of the AARP Public Policy Institute characterize the health threats posed by weather and high home energy costs and describe how affordable home energy protects health, facilitates personal independence and reduces inappropriate use of health services. The report closes with recommendations that promote adequate and affordable home energy use and that acknowledge the role of home energy in helping older adults and people of all ages maintain both economic security and good health.