An analysis of household energy use by racial/ethnic composition: Consumption, efficiency, and lifestyles




Valenzuela, Carlos

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The goal of this dissertation is to provide the most recent household energy consumption analysis by racial/ethnic household composition. This dissertation found that significant differences in behavior, energy consumption, and energy efficiency exist by racial/ethnic household composition. The models suggest that behavioral energy intensity is lower among households led by racial/ethnic minorities. Energy consumption and efficiency models suggest that Hispanic households consume less energy and are more efficient, while Black households consume more energy and are less efficient, than White households. However, when stratifying the models by housing vintage, the differences between Hispanic and White households are not consistent. Differences between Black and White households are evident only among those in housing units built before 1980, indicating that Black households in older vintages live in less efficient housing units and could be at a disadvantage that could result in having to pay a higher share of household income on energy use. Results also point towards evidence that energy efficiency standards since the late 1970s could have actually mitigated potential inequality associated with excess energy use by race/ethnicity. Improving energy efficiency of housing units may be beneficial not only to reduce total energy consumption levels, but also have the potential to lessen the burden of energy costs that lower income households (irrespective of race/ethnicity) might experience otherwise.


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demography, efficiency, energy consumption, race/ethnicity, residential