Understanding ‘energy insecurity’ and why it matters to health

Elsevier, Social Science & Medicine, Volume 167, October 2016, Pages 1-10
Diana Hernández


Energy insecurity is a multi-dimensional construct that describes the interplay between physical conditions of housing, household energy expenditures and energy-related coping strategies. The present study uses an adapted grounded theory approach based on in-depth interviews with 72 low-income families to advance the concept of energy insecurity. Study results illustrate the layered components of energy insecurity by providing rich and nuanced narratives of the lived experiences of affected households. Defined as an inability to adequately meet basic household energy needs, this paper outlines the key dimensions of energy insecurity-economic, physical and behavioral- and related adverse environmental, health and social consequences. By thoroughly examining this understudied phenomenon, this article serves to raise awareness of an increasingly relevant issue that merits more attention in research and policy.