Andrea Jones used to spend $500-$700 on her electric bill every month trying to keep her house livable for herself, her two young children (aged 2 and 8), and her mother. Despite her best efforts, the family room remained cold in winter and hot in summer. In 2012, Andrea joined the Help My House pilot project, which provided energy efficient upgrades to members of her electrical cooperative (co-op) at no upfront cost to the homeowner. With your support, EESI has been providing technical and policy assistance to co-ops like hers in South Carolina -- while working with Congress to advance policies to make programs like this available nationwide.
At Andrea's house, contractors sealed air leaks (including a huge hole behind the fireplace), replaced the electric furnace and AC units with a high efficiency heat pump, repaired and installed new duct work, added 27 bags of insulation, and patched holes under the house.
In the year since her upgrades, Andrea hasn’t paid a monthly electric bill higher than $277. The energy savings make the $69 monthly loan repayment, which is part of her electric bill, easily affordable. In addition to the financial benefits, Andrea raves that "comfort is much better ... seems like the air is better to breathe, too"
Teri and John Norsworthy also shared their experience on the Help My House. The fixed-income retirees jumped at the chance to reduce their monthly electric bill, which could reach as high as $500 per month. Now, their house stays a comfortable temperature, and their electric bill has been drastically reduced.
EESI and its partners, the Central Electric Power Cooperative and The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, found that the average house cut its electricity use by 34 percent. This saved customers an average of $288 per year after loan payments, which is projected to increase to more than $1,100 annually after the loans are fully repaid.
The final results of the pilot further demonstrate that energy efficiency retrofits can be successfully implemented using an on-bill financing model. While availability of loan capital remains an obstacle for a larger program, three of the participating South Carolina co-ops are moving ahead with energy efficiency programs under the "Help My House" banner and model. Two South Carolina co-ops that did not participate in the pilot are now initiating programs.
EESI is working to make on-bill financing more widely available in South Carolina and nationally. Legislation in the Farm Bill that assists electric co-ops in offering or expanding energy efficiency programs passed the Senate twice (last year and this year). The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also working make loan funds to help electric co-ops make such energy efficiency upgrade programs more available.
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Executive Director, EESI