Consumer Behavior and Energy Policy: An International Perspective

By Eric Monnier; George Gaskell et al. | Go to book overview

did not directly address this important question.

The comparison of low-income households that did versus did not convert from oil heating indicated the following: (a) Very little difference in demographics; (b) Very little difference in house characteristics, although the house age for nonconverters appeared to be older; (c) Very little differences in attitudes regarding the importance of energy conservation; (d) Nonconverters were much more concerned about the cost of conversion. In particular, although they were almost fully aware of the availability of COSP and of the amount of the COSP grant, nonconverters felt that the level of grants was insufficient to enable their conversion.


CONCLUSIONS

The synthesis of this report is presented here in two sections. First, there are two themes that seemed consistently evident during the analysis of the various data sets. These are discussed under the headings, Energy Expense Poverty and Cashflow Dominance. Second, consideration of the situation facing low-income households leads to the recognition of particular energy problem areas, and accordingly, to the identification of energy program priorities aimed at aiding these families.


Consistent Themes

Energy Expense Poverty . Both the Statistics Canada Expenditures data and the Energy Consumption and Conservation Survey delineate the problems low-income households have in reducing their energy spending to match their incomes. From Statistics Canada data, low income families spend 80 percent of what high-income families spend on heat and light. Yet the total budget of those on low income is only one third that of those on high income. Even worse, low-income unattached persons on one quarter the annual budget have heat and light expenses that are equal to their higher-income counterparts. Using the ECCP data to segment homeowners showed that, while low-income retired families were able to achieve somewhat lower heat and light spending, this expenditure for nonretired families did not decrease as incomes decreased.

In conclusion, all low-income families are unable to keep their heat and light expenditures in line with their incomes. The most serious cases appear to be unattached persons

-211-

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