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).
With many contractors suffering from a lack of enthusiastic and skilled workers, introducing young people into the energy efficiency industry is crucial. This industry is known for skewing primarily older (and nearing retirement), male, and lacking diversity. Partnering with community organizations that offer training opportunities to under-privileged youth is a great way to bring fresh, new faces into the industry and to encourage a more diverse workforce.
Homeowners are increasingly interested in their homes’ energy use. Whether they want to save money on utility bills, make their living space more comfortable or live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, awareness of energy use in residential buildings is growing. Smart thermostats that allow homeowners better control over their heating and cooling costs have increased in popularity over the years, expected to reach 40 million U.S. homes by 2020.
According to the Weather Channel, the Plains and Midwest states have had the most extreme and record-breaking weather of any region in 2019. From the polar vortex gripping the Midwest and setting at least 340 cold weather records in late January, to the deluge of snow in February, capped off by devastating flooding in March and two snowstorms in April, Midwesterners and the Midwest have had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at them!
The year 2007 was an unforgettable year for multiple reasons. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows (the final book of the series) was released, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on Climate Change, and it sparked the start of the subprime mortgage crisis which sent America into the greatest recession since the great depression. But, perhaps more influential than anything else was when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world. The iPhone took the world by storm, completely changing the way society interacts with technology and the way technology interacts with society.
Home energy ratings are experiencing a growing role in energy code compliance. HERS Raters, in particular, often provide third-party verification services for minimum and above-code programs, including traditional compliance pathways contained in the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), and more recently the Energy Rating Index (ERI) pathway. In recognition of this trend, the U.S. Department of Energy commissioned a study exploring the consistency and replicability of the HERS system, and in anticipation of HERS Raters assuming a greater role in energy code compliance.
The Energy/Health Connection
One in every 13 Americans has asthma, and we spend over $50 billion each year treating it. But did you know asthma attacks (and several other health issues) can be alleviated with better energy efficiency?
Energy efficiency policies and programs reduce pollution by offsetting the need for additional generation from power plants. Increasing energy efficiency and targeting programs to those most vulnerable for health issues (e.g. the elderly, people with existing chronic conditions, residents living in areas of higher pollution) improves public health while avoiding additional healthcare costs.
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.