Rhonda is from Chicago and grew up in Englewood. She has three children, now adults, and has lived in her home in Auburn Gresham for 21 years. Rhonda is a home daycare provider. Rhonda has been incredibly resourceful in managing her home over the twenty years she’s lived in it. She was proactive when she first moved into her home by working with Community and Economic Development Association (CEDA), to get a home assessment and install insulation. On average, households can save up to 15% on heating and cooling costs by insulating their house and sealing gaps and cracks where air comes in. Because she operates a daycare out of her home, Rhonda pays special attention to the mandates and programs that keep her house safe for the children she cares for. In addition to insulation and other upgrades that made her home energy efficient, healthy, and safe for children, Rhonda has renovated her house over time to really make it her own.
Behavioral Responses to Energy Insecurity
Throughout the years in her home, Rhonda has gotten very acquainted with how her heating system works. She’s developed effective strategies for her furnace so that she can keep her heating bills as low as possible, while still staying comfortable in her home. Before she had her windows replaced, Rhonda used to put plastic over them in the winter to keep out the cold air. She also discovered ways to manage paying her bills, especially in the winter when natural gas can get really expensive. Energy insecurity means that a household struggles to meet their basic energy needs. When a family faces this challenge, it can impact not just their finances but also their behaviors and how they respond to the challenge. Rhonda’s experiences are very common and are crucial to understanding the wide range of challenges people face when it comes to their home energy use. Energy insecurity isn’t just about the cost, it’s also about the home itself and the ways people respond to their situation. More research is needed to continue studying the broad scope of energy affordability and energy insecurity, and more policy and investment are needed to support proactive homeowners like Rhonda, as well as protect households who are facing this challenge.