Midwest residential energy efficiency programs have reported shocking deferral rates ranging from 20 to 60% due to health and safety concerns in households, ultimately preventing efficiency upgrades from being completed (Capps, Curry, & Levin, 2019) (NASCSP). In fact, about 6 million households nationwide have moderate to severe home health hazards while about 30 million households—roughly a quarter of all homes in the U.S.—have physical safety hazards, lead-based paint or pests (Kirby, 2017).
In order to create the best possible experience for customers, utilities must take their perspectives into consideration. Energy efficiency programs are often designed to maximize energy savings and fail to account for the specific needs and preferences of the customers they are targeting. At the Midwest Energy Solutions Conference this past February, attendees had the opportunity to brainstorm ways to best engage their customers by putting themselves in their shoes. “Walk a Mile in Your Customer’s Shoes” encouraged attendees to put aside their program perspectives and think through program design from a customer’s point of view.
Contractors – those who install energy efficiency upgrades in buildings – are the backbone of the EE industry. However, despite being crucial market actors to ensuring upgrades are properly installed, programs are sometimes designed or updated without consulting contractors to understand how their businesses may be impacted. Contractors are also grappling with labor shortages and an aging workforce, even though they often offer high wages and on-the-job training.
It’s that time of year to begin preparing your building for winter weather. We spoke with our BOC instructors from across the Midwest about adjusting your building for the changing seasons. Follow these tips to make sure your building is running as efficiently as possible this season.
Minimize outside air
Every cubic foot of air that is brought in from the outside must be conditioned. In summer it needs to be cooled and dehumidified, and in winter it needs to be heated. Therefore, every cubic foot that leaves the building that has been heated is now wasted energy. Minimize the uncontrolled air leakage and use CO2 levels to determine the controlled air exchange.
Recreational cannabis hits the shelves January 1, 2020 in both Illinois and Michigan. How will the race to market impact energy use?
Growing cannabis is an energy-intensive process, and as cultivators focus on getting product ready as quickly as possible, it will be easy for energy efficiency to get pushed to the backburner and energy consumption to rise.
Here at MEEA, we think our Building Operator Certification instructors are everyday rock stars. They are at the frontlines, teaching building operators how to cut costs and energy usage in their facilities. Our amazing pool of facility and energy managers are why BOC has the reach and impact it does in the Midwest.
We sat down with one BOC instructor who has gone above and beyond this year. Doug Lafever has been an instructor since 2014 and continually impresses us. This year alone, he has instructed eight classes in four states: Indiana, Kansas, Michigan and Nebraska.
2018 marked the first time that a Building Operator Certification (BOC) series was held in the Bluegrass State. Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) provided funding that subsidized the cost of tuition for students in 2018 while helping MEEA get the training off the ground and established in the state.
Energy efficiency improvements can be expensive and burdensome for residential homeowners, renters and building owners. Luckily, there are an increasing number of financial options to help cover the up-front costs of efficiency upgrades. Below, we lay out several financing options to make our homes and workplaces more energy efficient.
1. On-Bill Financing
On-bill financing is an umbrella term for a financing program where a charge is added to a customer’s energy bill to repay a loan from a utility for energy efficiency upgrades. The utility acts as the lender and incurs the upfront costs of the improvements.
How It Works
Nationwide, over 16 million households struggle to meet their heating, cooling and other energy needs, but energy efficiency is increasingly recognized as a potential solution to this problem. In 2018, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri began holding income qualified energy efficiency stakeholder collaboratives to strengthen program design and delivery for these communities. Throughout the Midwest, decision makers across the political spectrum recognize the value of low-income energy efficiency in helping families afford their basic energy needs.