Energy Poverty in the U.S.
Currently at least 48 million people in the United States
may experience energy poverty. Yet, we are unaware of this problem because
energy poverty is hidden within the homes of our communities!
Energy poverty is a term used to describe a person that is denied access to energy or cannot afford to cover basic energy needs. This denial of access can either be due to lack of technology, which is more common in third world countries, or due to financial hardship, which can happen to anyone in the United States.
In the U.S., Energy poverty occurs when
· people cannot afford to pay for electricity and other utilities
· people have to choose between buying food for their family or pay for their energy needs
· households are disconnected from the energy network due to bad debt with the electric utility
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), in order to qualify for energy assistance in the U.S., a household must earn below 150% (this varies by state, minimum is 110%) of the federal poverty level (which varies by household size).
Energy Poverty in the U.S.: Approximately 48 million people are at or below the poverty line and may be suffering from energy poverty. In 2014, LIHEAP provided energy assistance to roughly 6.9 million households nationwide. (Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; Campaign for Home Energy Assistance, “Investing in LIHEAP – Why Energy Assistance Is More Important Than Ever,” March 2014)
Energy Poverty in Texas: More than 4.6 million people in Texas are at or under the federal poverty line and likewise may have trouble paying their electric bills. They also are candidates for energy assistance from the government. In 2013, approximately 192,705 households received energy assistance for heating and cooling from the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). (Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; Campaign for Home Energy Assistance -- LIHEAP Action Center)
LEARN ABOUT YOUR STATE
How it feels to suffer from energy poverty
Just remember when you experienced a black out in your home. Now think that the black out lasts for the entire day … the entire month … the entire year. Families that suffer from energy poverty cannot cool/heat their homes, cannot cook for their children, cannot wash their clothes, cannot study during the night. Energy poverty materially affects their quality of life.
Many electric utilities and federal initiatives offer weatherization programs to support funding for low-income households. The only disadvantage of these programs is that they require time to be implemented and they do not eliminate energy poverty completely. A person that receives weatherization help, such as adding weather-stripping to doors and windows, is able to reduce a given percentage of their energy bill. However, this person still needs our help and, in most occasions, needs immediate help. For example, a person may suffer from an emergency medical condition, may lose their job, or while living on a fixed income, encounter a situation which drains available funds during these hard times. In addition, many utilities, in collaboration with local non-profit organizations, offer financial assistance to low-income households. Unfortunately, the participation of donors and corporations to these fundraising efforts is small.
This Energy Poverty problem can be addressed with the use of a cloud based technology that will provide a way to donate energy directly to a specific person or non-profit, and will provide interaction and real time feedback
The Gridmates Solution
As a new way to enhance the performance of existing financial assistance programs, Gridmates offers a platform that empowers people and corporations with the ability to share or donate energy to people in need. Gridmates also incentivizes people and corporations to save electricity (a benefit for them) and donate these saving for the benefit of the community.
The idea behind Gridmates is to leverage Internet technologies and provide a direct and immediate way to improve the lives of those in need. Gridmates harnesses peer-to-peer energy sharing to reduce energy poverty.
Anyone can use the Gridmates platform. Individuals can donate energy (with tax credits) via their smart phones and laptops. Corporations can create community challenges and engage their community to donate energy, or even donate energy themselves. Utilities can use the Gridmates platform to enhance existing assistance programs.
Gridmates will address the problem of Energy Poverty by connecting people with energy!