The average homeowner pays $2,000 to heat or cool their homes, according to the Department of Energy, and as much as $400 is going to waste by slipping through drafty windows, poorly insulated attics and outdated heating and cooling systems.
Not surprisingly, the impoverished are suffering the most — from both the weather and the drain on their finances. Ideally energy should cost 6 percent of income, but for many Americans that benchmark is unattainable.
Experts call it ‘energy poverty’ when families sink more than 10 percent of their annual incomes into faulty furnaces or energy-hogging window air-conditioning units. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that the poorest Americans are paying closer to 35 percent of their incomes on utilities.
At the same time, this wasted energy is contributing to the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that have been linked to climate change. As Americans move to reduce our carbon footprint, it seems only logical that helping the poor reduce their energy consumption can improve emissions output and improve lives.
Watch how one nonprofit in Richmond, Va., is fixing up homes for the poor for free. Not only do recipients see a lower energy bill each month, they also enjoy safer and more comfortable homes that experts say can help improve stress and increase productivity.
Is your community working to improve the lives of neighbors who need assistance? Let us know about your program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some video imagery courtesy of project:HOMES