Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) released a new report outlining the widespread benefits of low-income energy efficiency programs and concrete steps that states can take toward energy efficiency for all as they continue to step up on climate action.
“All Americans should have the opportunity to benefit from the cost savings and health improvements that energy efficiency measures can offer,” said EDF policy analyst Charlie Jiang. “States are already leading the way in addressing the threat of climate change and advancing clean energy. With the right policies in place, low-income households could take advantage of opportunities to cut their energy use by 20 percent or more, and save hundreds of dollars each year on their electric bills. Plus, helping everyone use less energy will mean a safer, healthier world for all of us.”
About 30 percent of U.S. households have incomes at or below twice the federal poverty level. Those households use roughly 30 percent of all residential electricity, but only six percent of U.S. energy efficiency spending is geared toward them.
Maximizing the potential from low-income energy efficiency could save more than $7.4 billion worth of electricity every year, and cut carbon pollution by 48 million tons every year – the equivalent of taking nine million cars off the road. It would also protect Americans’ health, support community jobs, and save money for the families that need it most.
EDF partnered on the report with the Applied Public Policy Research Institute for Study and Evaluation (APPRISE).
“Low-income and vulnerable households face the greatest challenges meeting their energy needs. Ratepayer-funded and government programs can address these issues with comprehensive energy efficiency treatments and resources for addressing health and safety barriers,” said Jacqueline Berger, president of APPRISE. “This report provides key information on how barriers to increasing investments can be overcome and how efforts can most effectively be focused.”
The new report looks at the obstacles to low-income energy efficiency – from creditworthiness requirements to language barriers to structural problems with older or poorly-maintained homes.
The report suggests eight steps that states, cities, and electric utilities can take to scale up low-income energy efficiency, including:
- Enacting policies to incentivize investment in low-income energy efficiency
- Maximizing the use of federal funds for energy efficiency programs
- Using inclusive financing mechanisms such as Pay as You Save
- Focusing on high-energy users and vulnerable households
- Working with trusted community organizations to reach more customers
- Addressing health and structural issues that prevent energy efficiency, like homes that have mold or leaking roofs
The report also highlights successful programs that are already working around the country, including in Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
An eight-page summary of the report is available here.
A webpage with more information, including a link to the full 264-page report, is available here.
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