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Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Social Studies, Economics

Resource Type

  • Interactive Media

Regional Focus

North America, United States

Low-Income Energy Affordability Data Tool

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  • This interactive map of the United States allows users to view information about the cost of energy per household by state, tribal area, county, or census tract. 
  • Students can view information about the average energy burden, average energy cost, or housing counts. 
Teaching Tips


  • The LEAD tool was developed to help communities identify ways to connect low-income households with energy conservation programs that install energy-efficient appliances and weatherize houses.
  • Students can click on a state and then click the green "compare" icon to see how the state compares to the rest of the country. Clicking on an additional state and clicking the green "compare" icon will allow students to compare two states.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Before the map tool opens, users have to choose one of three income models: area median income, federal poverty level, or state median income. Teachers should read the descriptions of the models and decide which one the class should use.
  • This map tool has several functions, but some are not intuitive. Teachers should become familiar with the tool before using it in class.
  • The data comes from the 2018 U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.


  • In social studies or civics classes, students could read and discuss the case studies (located on the left sidebar) showing how the LEAD tool helped communities connect people with energy conservation programs.
  • Social studies, geography, sociology, or ethics classes could compare energy prices in tribal areas with the surrounding states. Students could research the history of energy infrastructure on Indian reservations.
  • Students could look at the average energy burden in their communities and compare the data with neighboring communities. 
  • Other resources on this topic include this lesson and activity on energy justice, this lesson on energy conversion, and this PBS video on energy-efficient appliances.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a website that presents various representations of data hosted by the Department of Energy and collected primarily by the Census Bureau and is called the Low-Income Energy Affordability Data (LEAD) Tool. The data can be aggregated at the national, state, and city scale and includes data about energy costs, housing types, income data, and others. The interface is not always intuitive, and so may not be the best match for younger students, but the amount of data available is substantial, and thus students more familiar with complex databases can explore and learn a lot. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.13.6-8 Analyze the purposes, implementation, and consequences of public policies in multiple settings.
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.1.6-8 Explain how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.
      • D2.Eco.2.6-8 Evaluate alternative approaches or solutions to current economic issues in terms of benefits and costs for different groups and society as a whole.
      • D2.Eco.1.9-12 Analyze how incentives influence choices that may result in policies with a range of costs and benefits for different groups.
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