Energy poverty is defined as struggling to pay your energy bills – A common misconception is that only low income households struggle with energy poverty. In reality, the majority of people struggling with energy poverty are not low income. Many lower middle-class families who own their homes experience energy poverty in Canada. These families are hit hard by energy price increases and are often unable to upgrade their homes to reduce their energy usage and reduce their bills.
There are other risks to energy poverty besides being unable to financially handle bills. Some residents are forced to make tough trade-offs between paying energy bills and paying for other necessities, this is often referred to as a ‘to heat or to eat’ mentality. Some residents are living in damp or drafty homes, and have problems with mould and mildew. The constant stress of energy poverty can also affect mental health. Addressing energy poverty isn’t just about saving money or the environment, it’s about being safe and healthy in your own home.