Abstract This paper empirically assesses multidimensional energy poverty for low-income households in South Africa using the four waves of the National Income Dynamics Study. The study adopts the Nussbaumer et al. (Measuring Energy Poverty, 2011) methodology, the multidimensional energy poverty index (MEPI), to estimate energy poverty on 10,801 low-income households. The results indicate that low-income households in rural areas are more energy deprived than those in the urban areas. The MEPI score across the years in low-income urban and rural households depicts a moderate state of energy poverty. Furthermore, low-income households in both the urban and the rural areas are mostly deprived in the dimension of heating fuel. The study recommends that suitable measures to combat energy poverty be rural–urban specific.