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Forgone Summertime Comfort – Energy Poverty in the Summer

Broadly, energy poverty is defined as insufficient energy access. One often missed sign of energy poverty is an inability to maintain a safe and comfortable indoor temperature. We add to the literature by quantifying the cooling slope gap (i.e., amount of electricity households forgo over the cooling season). We find that households making less than $15,000 limit their electricity consumption for cooling by 1.03 kWh per 1 °F increase compared to high-income households. This implies that these households are continuously using coping strategies throughout the cooling season to reduce financial energy poverty but may be putting themselves a heat-illness risk. This finding helps energy poverty mitigation efforts by identifying who is potentially experiencing financial instability or lacks cooling infrastructure.

Dr. Destenie Nock is a leader in energy justice and sustainable energy transition trade-off analysis. In her role as an Assistant Professor in Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE), and Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) she creates optimization and decision analysis tools which evaluate the sustainability, equity, and reliability of power systems in the US and Sub-Saharan Africa. She has pioneered the development of algorithms to identify hidden forms of energy poverty, which is vital to achieving energy justice. Dr. Nock is the recipient of six NSF grants on energy, resilience, and energy justice. Dr. Nock holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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