Energy efficiency is one of the most effective means of decreasing home energy use and lowering electric bills. There are many things one can do to become more energy efficient. It could be as simple as being mindful of turning off the lights when you’re not in a room or as intensive as weatherizing your home or purchasing a fleet of new appliances. For low-income consumers, though, many of the most impactful energy efficiency activities are too costly: most folks can’t afford to replace their heating and air conditioning system with a more energy efficient one. In addition, many remain unaware of the range of more affordable options available to them. Fortunately, Duke Energy has stepped in to help thousands of low-income families in North Carolina become more energy efficient and save much-needed money by cutting their electric bill.
Duke Energy has launched a $20 million campaign, the Helping Homes Fund, to provide as many as 4,000 consumers with up to $10,000 in energy efficiency upgrades. Qualifying low-income households will now be able to weatherize their homes, upgrade heating and cooling systems, replace appliances, and install various health and safety upgrades into their homes. An energy assessment of the home will help to determine which measures are most appropriate.
The program, which will launch in January 2015, authorizes a total of $6 million for weatherization measures, health and safety upgrades, and appliance replacements, and $14 million for heating and cooling system replacements. Customers must meet U.S. Department of Energy criteria as being “income-qualified.” The program is available to households with income of up to twice the federal poverty level, which equals $47,700. Duke has tapped the North Carolina Community Action Association (NCCAA) to administer the program. The NCCAA will work with agencies and non-profits to distribute funds for energy-efficiency.
Not only does this program provide much-needed assistance for low-income consumers, but it will also not come at a cost to other customers. The money for the program will be drawn from Duke’s shareholder funds. Duke Energy’s Helping Homes Fund will enable thousands of households and families to lower their energy bills. The program will ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community can affordably heat and cool their homes, and keep the lights on, without breaking the bank. Let us hope that this initiative, spearheaded by one of the nation’s largest utilities, will inspire others to help ensure that the benefits of energy efficiency are available to everyone.