Holiday Cheer, Heat Smart Style

  • December 6, 2018
  • Heat Smart

It’s impossible to avoid this time of year. Decorations in every store, carols on every radio station, lights in nearly every window. So in this season of “comfort and joy” as the song goes, we’d like to draw your attention to some additional benefits of the Heat Smart Kit, such as comfort.

If you’re a regular reader, you know Heat Smart best for the energy savings we help low income families achieve. However, the high quality wool-blend blankets in our kit are also cozy and keep people warmer than cheaper synthetics or cotton. Wool is a natural and unique material that raises body temperature faster than any other material. It insulates in cold weather and breathes in hot weather. And the weatherstripping in the kit eliminates cold drafts around windows and doors. The result: increased comfort and sense of well-being.

Here’s what some Heat Smart Kit recipients have told us:

“The blankets were soft and cozy, I like to cuddle under them.”

The weatherstripping was really helpful, I used to have drafts all around my front door.”

“The blankets were very nice, they cuddle you up and keep you warm. I never had anything like them; before, I had thin cotton blankets.”

This warmth and added sense of comfort is what the industry calls a non-energy benefit. And research has shown that while difficult to quantify, non-energy  benefits are very important to many households, sometimes more important than the energy saving benefits. And that could help increase efficiency program adoption rates and achieve key energy policy goals. Even better, by keeping people warm, Heat Smart kits could reduce a household’s reliance on low-income household energy/fuel assistance. And that helps extend benefits to more households. We’d call that a win-win.

If you’re interested in exploring the idea more and seeing how we can help you, contact us any time.

Meanwhile, Heat Smart wishes you and yours a joyous – and warm – holiday season.

To tattoo, or not?

  • October 23, 2018
  • Heat Smart

“Save up to 10% each year on energy bills by turning thermostats down 7-10° at night.” – U.S. Department of Energy

That’s kind of long for a tattoo, but it is our mantra here at Heat Smart. We have it nearly everywhere – on brochures, on posters, in all our communications. And we believe it can change lives. How? By getting at-risk families the tools that empower them to turn the heat down and still stay warm. That’s the Heat Smart Kit.

We set out to demonstrate how we could change energy-use behavior through two studies and we found more people turned the heat down by more degrees, more often. They stayed warm and saved energy too.  And when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, having extra money left after paying bills is like having Christmas every month.

Here is just some of the feedback we received from participants in our Behavior Change Studies.

“I appreciate the blankets I received to be able to save a little on the heating. I will certainly use them again this winter.” -Annie, Wilmington, NC

“The blankets were soft and cozy; I turned the heat down 10 degrees. I know it saved me money, approximately $5 to $8 per month.” Bobbi, Kannapolis, NC

“The blankets were really warm! I will use them again this winter.” Burleigh, Fairmont, NC

“It helped with household expenses. We saved $10 to $20 each month.” David, Fairmont, NC

“It showed me how easy it is to be efficient, and I was able to spend the savings on groceries.” – Erica, Wilmington, NC

Bottom line: in the first study 91.7% or respondents reported monthly energy savings, and in the second study 98.8% reported monthly energy savings. And that’s just one metric. We put all our findings together in a Case Study Report that you can download here for free.

Helping the heat insecure like Erica, Bobbi and the others warms our hearts and keeps us going. We want to form even more partnerships to help even more people. If you’re involved in heat assistance for vulnerable families, you owe it to your constituents to contact us and see how we can help!

It’s Block Grant Season!

  • September 13, 2018
  • Heat Smart

This week marks three beginnings: the official start of fall, the unofficial beginning of FY19 budget planning, and the beginning of the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) Conference in Bellevue, Washington. We’re looking forward to attending the conference and sharing ideas with state administrators of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Program. It’s a great opportunity to discuss strategies and innovations in the fight to reduce poverty across the country.

Heat Smart’s mission is to empower families with the tools they need to save energy and thus money. It dovetails perfectly with both NASCSP’s vision – the empowerment of low-income families – and CSBG’s purpose – provide core funding to local agencies to reduce poverty and empower low-income families to become self-sufficient.

Our goal is to help states build their capacity to respond to poverty issues by partnering with their community service agencies and distribute Heat Smart Kits to low income families. Another key thing to know at this time of year is that block grant dollars can be used for Heat Smart Kits as they help reduce energy poverty. LIHEAP’s Assurance 16 funds can also be used on products (like Heat Smart Kits) that encourage and enable households to reduce their home energy needs and thereby the need for energy assistance.

We know that each state’s CSBG requirements are a little different, so we’re flexible in how we work. We’re always striving to be creative when developing programs for our partners, so if you have an idea for a Heat Smart program, tell us! We’re happy to discuss options.

If you’re going to Bellevue, stop by our booth and say hello. If not, email me and we’ll set some time to talk!

Where will the money come from?

  • August 23, 2018
  • Heat Smart

It’s a common question for America’s heat insecure when facing the approaching winter and increasing energy bills. The burden of high energy costs weighs heavily on those least able to afford it.

It’s also a common question for those of us working in heat assistance programs. The need is great (nearly 1 in 4 Americans are eligible for federal and state home energy assistance) and resources are tight. We partner with organizations throughout the U.S. to distribute Heat Smart Kits to low-income families and they often ask us for funding ideas, so we thought we’d share them with you here. In addition to the usual energy assistance budgets, think about:

  1. LIHEAP Crisis funds – Heat Smart kits are an approved expenditure for these funds to help those in crisis.
  2. Assurance 16 funds – This provision gives LIHEAP grantees the option of spending five percent of their LIHEAP funds on services that encourage and enable households to reduce their home energy needs and thereby the need for energy assistance.
  3. Grants – Many charitable foundations include heat assistance or reducing energy dependence as part of their mission. And if writing grant applications isn’t your strong suit, we can connect you with a qualified grant writer who can help.
  4. Weatherization Programs – Because Heat Smart kits include weather-stripping to reduce drafts and energy use, these programs align with our mission.
  5. Corporate Gifts/PR budgets – Many businesses have a charitable giving division you can partner with for funding to reach more families. In fact, we work with National Grid’s Customer Care Outreach Team to get Heat Smart kits to returning veterans struggling to set up households.

We hope these ideas get your brainstorming juices going and provide new ideas for your program or organization. We’ll be at several industry trade shows this fall, including the CAP Annual Convention in Denver, CO; the NASCP Annual Training Conference in Bellevue, WA; and the NAHRO National Conference & Expo in Atlanta, GA; so, stop by and see us. We’d be happy to discuss ideas on how we can all work together to reach more families in need.

Energy burden higher for those who can least afford it. 

1 in 4 households held back by a high energy burden.

Read More in our Blog