HEAT SMART BLOG
Today’s Hot Topic: Energy Poverty
- March 18, 2019
- Heat Smart
Home energy and housing experts define energy poverty as when energy costs for heat and light add up to more than six to ten percent of household income. But one in four U.S. households struggle with a high energy burden. Data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that people below 50 percent of the poverty level spend roughly 35 percent of their income on home energy bills; while other studies show that burden can be as high as 75 percent in the poorest of neighborhoods.
Low-income renters face even higher hurdles. They’re more likely to have drafty doors and windows, poor insulation, inefficient heating systems, and a landlord unmotivated to change the situation. Which means they have no control over how much energy they need to maintain a comfortable temperature. And that means not being able to keep their family warm on cold nights. These are the homes of 22 million children, individuals with disabilities, and elderly across the country who are more susceptible to the negative health effects of being cold.
Low-cost Heat Smart kits can help make a difference with wool-blend blankets for warmth, weather-stripping to eliminate drafts, and energy tips to enhance conservation.
Heat Smart kits empower low-income families to change their energy use behavior long-term and use less energy, which reduces their energy bill, month after month. At the same time, we help our program partners reach their energy assistance goals and stretch their resources, including Block Grant monies. We’re always looking for new, like-minded partners to work with such as weatherization and energy assistance programs to help reach more low-income families. Are you that partner?
If you’re interested in exploring these ideas more, we’ll be at several conferences this spring: NCAF, HPC and NAIHC. Stop by and see us or contact us any time.
Beyond Dollars and Cents – to a Sense of Comfort
- January 17, 2019
- Heat Smart
Happy New Year! We’re looking forward to kicking off the year with our Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) friends in San Antonio next week at their 29th Annual Conference. We’re especially looking forward to the “Changing Behavior…is Changing” presentation on Monday. As programs get more sophisticated, the industry is looking into the additional benefits of energy efficiency that may drive behavior change, beyond the initial monetary savings. These “non-energy benefits” can sometimes be more important to participants than the savings.
- An added sense of comfort.
- Added sense of control over their bill.
- Reduced fear of shutoffs.
- Less time lost dealing with bill-related calls to utilities.
- An increased sense of independence due to reduced reliance on low-income fuel assistance programs.
- Added breathing room for the rest of their budget.
- Increased knowledge of energy efficiency.
These behavior-changing benefits are built right in to every Heat Smart Kit, which empowers families to save energy and stay comfortable during cold winters. Here’s what Heat Smart Kit users say:
“It was nice to have money left over at the end of the month.” Burleigh D, Fairmont NC
“It showed me how easy it is to be efficient, and I was able to spend the savings on groceries.” Erica F, Wilmington NC
“The blankets kept me comfortable even while turning the heat down
and the weatherstripping helped with cold air leaking around doors.” David H., Fairmont NC
Heat Smart is looking to partner with more community action agencies, government programs, tribes and utilities to bring these benefits to more low-income families. What’s more, our proven program can help you: stretch your assistance budget, increase efficiency program adoption rates, achieve key energy policy goals, and meet federal assistance mandates.
If you’re interested in exploring these idea more, stop by and see us at Booth 108 at AESP or contact us any time.
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!