October is National Energy Awareness month and the 30th is Weatherization Day! As we head into Fall and temperatures start to drop, our energy bills generally go up. Heating our homes can account for as much as 40% of our entire home energy consumption. So why is it important to be aware of our household power use? First of all, COST!
Low-income families are disproportionately affected by high home energy costs. The average low-income household spends 16.3% of their gross annual income on home energy costs. Comparatively, other households only spend an average of 3.5% of their gross annual income on home energy. This means that making a difference in the energy costs of low-income families can have a dramatic effect on their monthly costs and significantly improve their quality of life.
Another major factor driving energy awareness is the environment. Energy waste and overuse causes additional carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses, not to mention putting a strain on our natural resources. Improving the efficiency of our homes is one of the simplest ways to take steps towards the goal of lowering our energy usage. Our Energy and Environmental Services programs help low-income families to increase energy efficiency and manage the costs of their utility bills.
Community Action Agencies nationwide have been involved with the Federal Weather Assistance Program since 1976. In that time, over 7.4 million homes have been weatherized. Last year alone there were 598 CAAs nationwide that provided weatherization services, serving over 60,000 low-income families. Those families' heating bills were reduced by an average of 30%, leaving them with more available monthly budget for other necessities. Additionally, residents of weatherized homes show improved health and fewer hospitalizations or missed school days. If you are interested in learning more about our Weatherization program, click here.
Energy Saving Tips
Conserving energy can save you money, protect the environment and actually increase the value of your home! There are so many energy saving tips you can implement yourself, we thought we would share a few of the most popular ways to save below. For those who don't meet our income qualifications for weatherization, you may find some affordable tips that you can start working on today.
- Wash your clothes in cold water. Cold water is just as effective as hot water to wash your clothes but requires only a fraction of the energy.
- Upgrade to LED bulbs. Modern LED bulbs have become much more affordable and use about 80% less power than traditional incandescent bulbs. They also last about 25 times longer so they actually end up paying for themselves!
- Get a smart thermostat. Modern thermostats are much more advanced and offer learning capabilities to optimize your heating and cooling patterns and save energy. Many are also wifi connected and can be controlled from anywhere via an app on your smartphone.
- Install energy efficient windows. Old single pane windows are terrible insulators. They let the heat in during the summer and the cold in during the winter. Upgrading to modern dual pane windows makes a huge difference.
- Air leaks around doors and windows can also be a common problem, that can usually be resolved with a little work and some weather stripping.
- Insulation. If your attic and your walls are hollow, or lack sufficient insulation, you are going to have a hard time maintaining a comfortable temperature. There are a variety of insulation options to fit your home and your budget.
- Have your HVAC system inspected. The system in your home that controls heating, cooling and ventilation is extremely important. Heating is the most energy hungry function of your system and accounts for as much as 40% of your home energy use. If your HVAC system is old or running inefficiently, you may be wasting money every month.
So what are you doing for Weatherization Day? Make some plans to weatherize your home, or help a friend or neighbor with theirs. Want to learn a little more about our weatherization services and how the community can pitch in to help families in need? Click below to discover what you can do to improve the lives of families in your community.
If you're looking for a good place to volunteer your time, we always love to get help from community members. Click the volunteer button below to get our volunteer request form and see how you can help the Community Action Agency of Butte County continue to help people and change lives!
Since 1967, the Community Action Agency of Butte County has been serving the needs of the region in alignment with the charter of the National Community Action Agencies overarching goal: To alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty by whatever means necessary in your community. As Butte County CAA, we provide hope to people struggling with poverty to become more self-sustaining by meeting tangible needs in the areas of energy savings, affordable food, and housing. Connect with us to find out how you can get involved.