The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released a 2020 report stating that low-income households are among those who face the greatest burdens on energy costs. Persons of color, namely Native American, Black, and Hispanic households, also suffer from high energy bills.
Tied to these issues faced by low-income families is the lack of access to housing equipment and appliances that use energy efficiently. This partly occurs due to the hindrances many minorities encounter to gain opportunities to improve their financial capacities.
The pandemic has only further aggravated these hardships. However, your local community is also in a great position to offer support to those who need it during these trying times.
How Your Community Can Help with Energy Efficiency
Your community’s efforts need not be big to make a positive impact. These are just some ways you can assist your low-income neighbors.
1. Help weatherize their homes.
Without the proper equipment and home features, many homes are poorly prepared for the changing of seasons. By having professionals assess energy use and perform weatherizing services, low-income households can comfortably meet every coming season.
Ceramic space heaters are a great investment, especially for the colder months. These directly supply heat to the floor, wall, or ceiling panels they are attached to. This means that they do not waste energy in the way that air vents can. They also do not distribute dust around the house, making them safer against individuals with allergies and respiratory problems.
Air leakages should also be sealed so that the homes do not waste energy. When homes are air sealed, ventilation is more easily controlled, resulting in improved indoor air quality and heating and cooling efficiency.
2. Pitch in to provide energy-efficient equipment.
The financial burden brought upon households by high energy costs makes it hard to shift towards more efficient home equipment and appliances. It doesn’t help that energy-saving devices usually cost more upfront.
Your community can do something to pool finances from various people who are willing to lend a hand. With the money you have collected, you can then purchase equipment that can improve their energy consumption.
With your limited budget, prioritize quality over quantity. Replace frequently used appliances such as refrigerators, light bulbs, washing machines, and dishwashers with energy-efficient alternatives. These can significantly reduce energy costs for low-income households.
3. Hold energy efficiency seminars.
This is a great opportunity to further educate your neighborhood on the importance and benefits of having energy-efficient homes. Work with organizations that are well-versed in sustainable energy to lead workshops that educate the public and teach them practical tips.
Along with this, you can also launch an informational campaign targeted towards families. While word of mouth and physical posters in your neighborhood bulletins are helpful, you should also take your campaign online to make the resources easily accessible for everyone who might be interested.
4. Appeal to lawmakers.
Launching an advocacy campaign raises needed awareness on important topics. These causes are even more powerful when brought to the government. Set up a team to create a solid appeal that will catch your local leader’s attention.
If there are existing bills that you want to urge them to sign into legislation, you and other concerned citizens can write a letter addressed to them. You can also name concerns about provisions for low-income families in your area and ask them to take action.
Specific, concise requests are best for writing to your elected officials. These allow them to quickly understand the issues you are bringing to their attention and what kind of action you expect them to take.
5. Set a monthly goal for your efforts.
As you build your local movement for energy efficiency, set objectives per month to have clear parameters for what you are working towards. It becomes easier to gauge your success and the effectiveness of the campaign with measurable goals.
For instance, a clear, measurable objective can be “Weatherstrip 50 homes for August,” rather than “Give energy-saving devices away.” Let your goals be your guide as you work towards a more energy-efficient community.
Energy Efficiency for All
The road to energy efficiency involves many challenges, especially for those with fewer means to pursue it. However, with the help of each person, these little community efforts can turn into something bigger.
Take it step by step, and celebrate your milestones. With more energy-efficient households, your community is better equipped to achieve a future where sustainability is real and accessible for everyone!