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Why Income Eligible Communities Need Energy Efficiency

Updated: Sep 10, 2019

Until recently, energy efficiency was not a viable solution to helping income eligible individuals and communities cut spending. Federal and utility scale energy efficiency programs have shifted their focus to emphasize income eligible areas by providing the personalized incentives and resources they need to succeed. The importance of energy efficiency not only reduces energy costs but increases building safety and boosts economic development. Energy efficiency is more than just a matter of shaving off a few extra dollars a month, it allows communities to retain more of their annual budget and allocate funds to be used for other essentials such as education and enriching public resources.

The ratio of income to energy expenses, also known as the energy burden, hits income eligible communities harder than the average American. These communities oftentimes pay three times more than the average customer and need reliable access to energy efficiency programs if they want to lower utility and maintenance costs. Buildings located in these areas are generally older and have not undergone recent renovations, meaning they were likely built before energy performance standards existed. This suggests that building systems such as insulation, lighting, and HVAC are not providing adequate lighting and air quality.

While energy efficiency is a great way to reduce annual energy costs and ultimately lower the energy burden, income eligible communities often do not have the funds to meet the upfront costs of a lighting upgrade or HVAC retrofit. Utility scale programs are working to cut upfront costs by offering free equipment, highly incentivized services, and energy assessments that identify low/no cost energy saving measures with studies such as retro-commissioning. Retro-commissioning is one of the most cost-effective options to energy efficiency because it looks for low to no cost operational opportunities that have a simple payback period of less than two years. Energy efficiency works to lower energy costs, reduce the community’s environmental impact, improve the community’s health and safety while investing in the local economy and improving job creation.

As a part of the growing need to emphasize energy efficiency in income eligible communities, the Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC), a partnership between 360 Energy Group and the University of Illinois, is working to create an easy to participate, highly incentivized program that will allow for energy efficiency to be a practical option for the communities that need it most. While details are still being finalized, we would love to hear from you. If you think your public sector building would benefit from lighting and HVAC assistance, contact our Project Manager, Bryan Tillman at 773-236-8901 or We will review your eligibility and assist with future energy saving projects.


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