This PECE essay presents data and analysis from a structured interview conducted in December 2020. The respondent will be referred to by the pseudonym Rae. This version of the energy rights survey was conducted between December 2020 and January 2021. It asked respondents questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their daily life, utility bill payment, and energy consumption among other things. The goal of the survey was to discover the ways COVID-19 might introduce or heighten already existing energy vulnerabilities and to gauge energy, appliance, and assistance knowledge in our respondents.
When asked what she would do if she lost power during a heatwave with a government-issued stay-at-home order in place, Rae stated that she would “make do with whatever we have”, take cool showers and baths, drink cold drinks, and stay as hydrated as possible. Rae’s household’s water, gas, electric, and internet bill amounts are higher than what she would typically expect for this time of the year, and her oil bill amount has remained the same. She attributes this change to the pandemic, and reiterated that she is on a fixed income, and that her children are home more which is leading to increased energy consumption. Although there has not been a change in her household’s income, there has been a change in Rae’s household’s expenses. She is struggling to pay for her electric, water, and internet bills, but mainly the electric bills. Rae has enrolled in energy assitance programs, both prior to COVID-19 and due to COVID-19. She is enrolled in the Customer Assistance Program, and is enrolled in LIHEAP to pay for her oil bill. She has been made aware of energy assistance programs that can help with bill assistance during COVID-19 because of posts on social media, ads on TV, and she also noted that these were programs that she’s always kind of knew about.
Some data from the survey results is presented visually in this essay, “The Energy Vulnerability Survey Results” (please contact the site administrator if you need data access).
Background information about the survey is available in this essay, “The Energy Vulnerability Survey.”