Addressing Health and Affordability Challenges for Low-Income Families

How energy efficiency can lower statewide health expenses, close the affordability gap and put people to work

HEALTHIER HOUSING = HEALTHIER PEOPLE AND STRONGER MORE RESILIENT COMMUNITIES

Addressing indoor health barriers improves occupant health, lowers energy expenses, and supports our state mandated carbon and energy demand reduction goals, while creating real jobs in our communities.

Problem: Up to 30% of homes in Connecticut (CT) have one or more safety concern

Up to 30% of LMI homes have one or more health concerns such as asbestos, mold, mildew, knob-and-tube electrical wiring, and pests, which are barriers to full weatherization and lowered energy bills. Energy Assessments provided by Energize CT and WAP locate and identify hazardous conditions in LMI housing (based on Energize CT data on homes barriered from Wx in CT, 2017- 2019.)

Solving for weatherization barrier funding in CT is a critical issue. These barriers limit ratepayers’ access to energy saving services that their utility bill payments help fund.

The increased thermal comfort associated with a weatherized building envelope, allows residents to shelter in place in extreme hot and cold temperatures even during power outages.

Energy efficiency provides a pathway to positive health outcome

Reducing Energy Use Leads to Better Health

Energy efficiency and weatherization lead to better health outcomes for residents. A 2014 study found a 12% decrease in emergency department asthma-related visits and a 48% decline in poor health among adults who received home weatherization services (Save Energy, Saving Lives by ACEEE & PSR, https://www.aceee.org/research-report/h1801.)

READ MORE: Yale Center on Climate Change and Health (https://publichealth.yale.edu/climate/YCCCH_CCHC2020Report_395366_5_v1.pdf)

What is LIHEAP?

LIHEAP is a flexible federal funding source with the potential to close the affordability gap and help CT reach our GC3 goals.

Weatherization and energy-related home repair directly contribute to reducing energy burdens and improving home health and safety, both of which are LIHEAP goals.

Simple Solution to Indoor Health Barriers

Breaking siloed approaches and removing health barriers ensures households are served comprehensively, resulting in lowered energy expenses, lower energy demands on our grid, lowered pollution, and lowered carbon emissions. This will ultimately expand the number of LMI
served in our state. Additional benefits include creating local jobs and addressing long standing affordable safe housing issues, and permanently lowering energy expenses.

An allocation of LIHEAP funds towards weatherization and barrier remediation would open the door for a comprehensive weatherization barriers remediation program, providing a solution to the 23-30% of income-eligible households in CT with home weatherization barriers preventing access to energy-saving services (based on Energize CT data on homes barriered from Wx in CT 2017- 2019.) This would also prepare CT for upcoming federal stimulus packages.

Connecticut boasts strong energy efficiency programs (Energize CT). These programs include comprehensive energy efficiency upgrades which support low-income resident’s ability to effectively manage home energy demands and lower energy burdens. DEEP coordinates the state’s existing energy efficiency programs (HESIE and WAP.) DEEP could establish an official Weatherization Barrier Committee inclusive of community action agencies, the utilities, contractors, advocates, and DSS to ensure proper coordination among entities.

Crosscutting Benefits

Job Creation – The use of LIHEAP funds to remediate barriers increases workforce opportunities. Expanding the capacity of the CT’s network of weatherization contractors will help CT reach our carbon and energy goals.

Investments in the energy efficient workforce bring the highest return on investment of any green job, $1M = 18 job years (2020, Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction.)

Energy Efficiency Saves Lives

A study by ACEEE and Physicians foe Social Responsibility found that reducing energy consumption in the United States by 15% could have enormous annual impacts on public health, while lowering energy burdens (Save Energy, Saving Lives by ACEEE & PSR, https://www.aceee.org/research-report/h1801.)

Goals for LIHEAP

To address the remediation of home weatherization barriers for low-income customers, we recommend a higher level of LI􀀫EAP weatherization funds be allocated to reduce energy burdens and improve home health and safety in CT.

We are recommending that up to 8 million dollars of LIHEAP be allocated to weatherization and removing health and safety conditions.

In FY17-FY20 an average of 2% of respective CT LIHEAP allocations went to weatherization compared to a national average of 11.1% across those years (Based on Energize CT data on homes barriered from Wx in CT 2017- 2019,) placing CT behind the curve in utilizing LIHEAP money for weatherization.


Indoor Health Barriers

Health and Safety Barriers to Weatherization Study (Yale 3/17/2017)

Executive Summary:

Health and safety problems often cause barriers that prevent full weatherization from being completed in homes that could otherwise achieve significant energy savings. Common health and safety barriers include elevated CO levels or gas leaks, mold, friable asbestos, vermiculate insulation that may contain asbestos, and knob and tube wiring. The Health and Safety Barriers to Weatherization Study aimed to evaluate the scale and nature of these problems in Connecticut, assess where they are most likely to occur, determine whether data about these problems is being effectively collected and tracked, and what might be some strategies for minimizing health and safety barriers to weatherization.

Based on a review of existing studies carried out in Connecticut, interviews with key stakeholders, and a detailed qualitative and quantitative survey
administered to vendors working for EnergizeCT in United Illuminating’s service territory, the main findings of this study are

Solve Climate 2030 International Conference – UConn Power Dialog

April 7th, 2020

Engage + Educate + Advocate + Collaborate + Innovate
= Positive Equitable Energy Policy Outcomes

The Spin on Energy ……

Many of us are focused on “Climate talk”, “Carbon Talk”, “Clean Energy”,
“Green Energy” , EV policy, EV infrastructure build outs, Wind, Solar,
Geothermal, Transportation, workforce, Ratepayer Funds, Green Bank
Programs, Outreach needs, highest carbon emitters, where to start, who
should pay for all of what we want as goals, who should be allowed to use
incentives, who can’t use the incentives and programs, what they can be used for, cost effective testing, what is the best plan to lower carbon, protect health, mitigate climate change, grow our economy, lower energy burdens, close affordability gaps, protect water and air, educate people, ensure Equity for all, and what steps we need to take this year to lay the foundation for our success. Because without a plan a goal is just a wish…..

Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) – Equity Lens

Equity starts by recognizing that there are disparities and inequities in living conditions. Some communities lack resources, lack political power, lack access to higher education, or have poor health outcomes. These examples place low-income communities and many communities of color at greater risk while limiting their capacity to adapt.

Equity based Planning takes these disparities into account.

STAND UP for Climate Action & Energy Equity

Educate. Motivate. Unite on Climate Action!

Thank you to all Climate Action seekers, defenders of the Planet, and those who value Energy Efficiency, Conservation, Clean Energy, Economic Growth, Environmental Advocacy, Human Health, Clean Public Transportation, Local Green Jobs, Healthy and Affordable Housing, and Water as a Public Right!

Thank You for Standing With Us

on Sunday, April 14th, 2019

Efficiency. Environment. Economy. Employment. Equity. Education. Reliable, Resilient, & Safe Energy for All!

STAND UP FOR Climate Action & Energy Equity

Educate. Motivate. Unite on Climate Action!

Calling All Climate Action Seekers, Defenders of the Planet, and Those Who Value Energy Efficiency, Conservation, Clean Energy, Economic Growth, Environmental Advocacy, Human Health, Clean Public Transportation Local Green Jobs, Healthy and Affordable Housing, and Water as a Public Right!

Stand With Us

Sunday, April 14th @ 1pm
Hartford State Capitol

We are STANDING UP FOR CLIMATE & ENERGY EQUITY as part of our collaborative call for responsible energy policies to fight climate change, protect public health, and create good, local jobs!

We Are Calling on Our Elected Leaders to:

  • Stop diverting Energy Efficiency & Clean Energy funds.
  • Ensure equal access to efficiency & clean energy programs
  • Lower energy waste and pollution.
  • Close the affordability gap & invest in a clean energy future.
  • Expand programs that cut waste & lower carbon emissions.

Policy Goals

  • Restore & expand our energy efficiency & renewable energy programs and create a path for increased energy equity.
  • Ensure all programs have an equity lens, including transportation.
  • Include underrepresented communities at the table & empower them with information.

Efficiency. Environment. Economy. Employment. Equity. Education. Reliable, Resilient, & Safe Energy for All!

Sunday, April 14th @ 1pm
Hartford State Capitol

Educate. Motivate. Unite. Take Action.

The Time is Now!

Click image to download flyer

CALL TO ACTION!

Efficiency for All

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Below, please find the bills that we could use your support on at the Capitol.

Please write letters in support of these bills.

Call your representatives and ask them to have these bills called on committee.

If you are at the Capitol please speak to your representative or senators about energy efficiency.

  • Efficiency is Efficient.
  • Conservation is conservative.
  • Using less leaves us with more and there is enough for everyone.

Help support Connecticut residents and the planet!


Bills

HJ 31
Resolution Proposing A State Constitutional Amendment Prohibiting The Diversion Of Funds For Energy Efficiency And Clean Energy Programs To The General Fund.
To prohibit the diversion of funds for energy efficiency and clean energy programs to the General Fund.

Sponsor(s): Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (136); Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (136)
Committee(s): Finance, Revenue and Bonding

*Current status: Referred to Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding (1/23)

HB 5030
An Act Restoring Energy Efficiency And Clean Energy Funds.
To restore moneys in the state budget of energy efficiency and clean energy program funds.

Sponsor(s): Rep. Joseph P. Gresko (121); Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (136)
Committee(s): Finance, Revenue and Bonding

*Current status: Referred to Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding (1/9)

HB 5409
An Act Prohibiting The Diversion Of Funds For Energy Efficiency Programs.
To prohibit the diversion of funds for energy efficiency programs.

Sponsor(s): Rep. Laura M. Devlin (134)
Committee(s): Finance, Revenue and Bonding

*Current status: Referred to Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding (1/16)

HB 5804
An Act Restoring Ratepayer Energy Efficiency And Clean Energy Program Funds.
To restore moneys in the state budget of energy efficiency and clean energy program funds.

Sponsor(s): Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (136)
Committee(s): Finance, Revenue and Bonding

*Current status: Referred to Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding (1/23)

HB 6453
An Act Concerning The Protection And Accountability Of Energy Efficiency Funds.
To restore and protect the purposes of the three clean energy funds while adding legislative oversight of such funds.

Sponsor(s): Rep. Mary M. Mushinsky (85)
Committee(s): Environment

*Current status: Referred to Joint Committee on Environment (1/28)


Let your voice be heard.

Thank you standing up for Connecticut and it’s residents!

Sincerely,

Efficiency For All

HOME ENERGY AFFORDABILITY IN CONNECTICUT: The Affordability Gap (2017)

Connecticut’s Home Energy Affordability Gap increased in 2017 relative to the prior year. As has been true for several years, home energy costs continue to pose a crushing burden to low- income residents of the state. Particularly for households with incomes in “Deep Poverty,” home energy
costs threaten not only the ability of Connecticut households to retain access to energy services, but also threaten access to housing, food, medical care and other necessities of life. The Home Energy Affordability Gap in Connecticut leaves an aggregate Gap substantially higher than available assistance resources. The size of the Affordability Gap indicates the extent of the home energy affordability crisis in Connecticut.

Home energy unaffordability in Connecticut is a statewide phenomenon. It affects areas of the state both rural and urban. It affects areas of the state both North and South, both East and West. The discussion below continues a series of annual reports examining home energy affordability in Connecticut. The Home Energy Affordability Gap measures the dollar amount by which actual home energy bills exceed affordable home energy bills. In this respect, “affordability” is examined in terms of home energy burdens, bills as a percentage of income. For example, if a Connecticut household has an annual income of $12,000 and an annual home energy bill of $3,000, that household has a home energy burden of 25% ($3,000 / $12,000 = 0.25). An affordable home energy burden is set at 6%.¹


¹ The 6% is a calculated figure. It is based on the premise that utility costs should not exceed 20% of shelter costs. Moreover, it is based on the premise that total shelter costs should not exceed 30% of income. 20% of 30% yields a affordable utility burden.

To learn more about the affordability gap in Connecticut, please find the full report here, or contact:

Operation Fuel, Inc.

75 Charter Oak Avenue, Suite 2-240
Hartford, CT, 06106

  • P. (860) 243-2345