Collaborative Program Spreading Word to Go Green
Following an initial round of communications at the beginning of this year, the collaborative campaign between the energy-efficient education and outreach program HeatSmart and the Town of East Haven is ready to take off, according to HeatSmart representatives and town officials.
With its stamp of confidence from the town, HeatSmart said it is ready to unravel its second communications phase with East Haven residents and businesses. The first phase saw buckslips intended for households distributed through the Department of Social Services and the East Haven Food Pantry, according to outreach representative Daniel Rabin.
This time around, HeatSmart will be mailing town-endorsed letters in English and Spanish to the 9,000 residences and 1,5000 businesses in the two months following Thanksgiving.
Previously, the goal was to perform Home Energy Solution (HES) assessments at households that are a part of the Income Eligible population in East Haven. Encouragement of this remains the core component of the second round of information.
“We will be doing a more targeted mailing for people who live in multifamily dwellings as well as reaching out to the Income Eligible population through the social services and the food pantry,” said Rabin.
Households are determined as income-eligible if the occupants’ combined gross annual income is below the state's 60% income median, as defined by EnergizeCT.
HES evaluations by the two of the town’s contractors for residents, New England Smart Energy Group and Home Comfort Practice, will consist of assessing “your heating, lighting, insulations, and suggest further energy efficiency measures,” said the Office of Mayor Joseph Carfora. “The contractor may suggest various additional energy upgrades such as heat pumps, insulation, or solar panels, and you can decide whether to invest in these further measures. There is absolutely no obligation for you.”
According to Stephanie Weiner of New England Smart Energy Group, HES services will last between three to five hours, depending on the size of a home and “how leaky it is.”
Income Eligible households will receive an HES assessment at no-cost, while households above the 60% threshold should expect a $50 co-pay, said Rabin. EnergizeCT estimates that “the average home in Connecticut receives about $850 in services and realizes up to $180 in savings on their annual energy bills.”
Aside from the substantial energy savings for households, HES assessments will serve as an additional benefit to town residents, especially those experiencing financial challenges.
“Our partner contractors…will contribute $25 to the East Haven Food Pantry for each completed HES evaluation and income-eligible residents,” said the Mayor’s Office.
Adjacent to the residential program is an additional Small Business Energy Advantage (SBEA) program, targeted toward local businesses and endorsed by the East Haven Chamber of Commerce.
“The majority of the program incentives are geared around lighting; the replacement of fluorescent lighting to LED lighting,” said HeatSmart representative Bob Babcock.
The program will see businesses being given an audit and subsequent incentives by United Illuminating Co. (UI) for using lighting more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Babcock said this should be highly attractive for businesses given the high incentive rate of about 80%. As an example, Babcock said that a lighting assessment audited at $15,000 will be picked up by the program at $12,000.
“It’s a beneficial program for all East Haven businesses to wrap their arms around and take advantage of,” said Babcock. “There's no money upfront for the business to find out what their incentive would be worth…When the incentive is generated, the agreement is between UI and East Haven. There is not a third party involved.”
Rabin said small businesses can expect to see a letter in their mailboxes in January next year.
As part of the overall campaign, social services personnel and volunteers at the food pantry will receive training from HeatSmart to understand its programs' goals to create “an interactive team experience.”
“We want the people who are interfacing with the public to be really aware of what the program is, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and also to let them have an opportunity to ask us questions and point out things that we should be doing,” said Rabin.
Broadly, HeatSmart is looking to bring its programs to all municipalities that are part of the South Central Regional Council of Governments with the determination for its contractors to gradually “change the cultures of how people look at their energy.” Rabin raised an example of continuing to be more economical in considering installing heat pump technology as a substitute for replacing a malfunctioning oil furnace to heat a household.
“There’s a slow evolution of consciousness about energy efficiency that we’re looking to accelerate.”
Households can contact 877-WISE-USE to schedule the service with other HES/HESIE providers.