Energy & Environment Lab Simple Savings

Many low-income families in Chicago struggle to pay their utility bills and face many barriers to successfully managing their utility use and costs. In Illinois, low-income families face a greater energy burden than the more affluent, often spending a larger portion—between 9% and 26%—of their income on utility costs. These households also often lack access to affordable capital and discretionary income—53% of borrowers in the U.S. take out their first payday loan to cover regular expenses like utility bills. Despite the existence of programs to help low-income households, only a fraction of those eligible ultimately receive assistance.

To address these challenges, the Energy & Environment Lab is partnering with Elevate Energy and ComEd—winners of the 2015 Urban Labs Innovation Challenge—on a new initiative, called ComEd Simple Savings. Leveraging smart meter technology, this initiative will assist households in managing energy costs, and will produce insights for improved energy programs that serve low income households.