The relationship between increasing income of rural households and energy choice is explored. Previous studies have been equivocal because they ignored the consideration of out-migration, which is a distinctive characteristic of present China . This study provides additional insight by considering income structure and energy structure of rural households in western China. The research was conducted in Zhouzhi County in the jurisdiction of Xi’an city, Shaanxi Province, China. Through questionnaire survey, 1074 rural households’ detailed information about their livelihoods were obtained. After descriptive statistics analysis and econometrics model analysis, we provide evidence that migration income plays a important role when rural households choosing modern energy such as electricity or gas, which shows higher income housholds like to choose cleaner but expensive energy. We also find out-migration can reduce family firewood consumption, transforming the use of firewood to other cleaner forms of energy, which can keep the ecological environment sustainable development.