Energy Efficiency Programs
Increasing the number of energy-saving programs will play important part of creating an economic transition in Appalachian Kentucky and beyond, by renewing the co-ops in east Kentucky.
Energy efficiency will not only help those most vulnerable to the rising costs of fossil fuel-based power by helping people save money by saving energy, it will also create good local jobs that can't be outsourced.
Additionally, energy efficiency will reduce demand for power generated at centralized and often polluting power plants. For these reasons, promoting new energy efficiency programs, as well as the success of current ones, is an important part of the Renew East Kentucky campaign.
One of the programs that KFTC is helping to communicate about and promote is the How$martKY program.
What is How$martKY?
How$martKY is a financing program--a way to benefit from home energy-saving improvements while paying for those improvements over time right on your bill. It's a program run by your electric utility and has been approved by the Kentucky Public Service Commission.
How does How$martKY work?
With How$martKY, your electric co-op will send someone to your home to do an “energy assessment” to see what kinds of improvements might help you use less energy. They’ll check to see if your duct work is leaky, if your heating or air conditioning is inefficient, etc. They may perform what’s called a “blower door test” (see the middle photo above) to see how tight your home is--if it’s letting in or letting out too much air.
The co-op will then figure out a menu of options for home improvements that could be done, such as caulking, replacing the heater, new insulation, etc.
Next the co-op crunches the numbers to see if these energy upgrades will save you enough money to pay for them-selves over a manageable period of time. You pay for the upgrades with the savings right on your electric bill.
What kind of energy upgrades can be done?
The energy upgrades for each home will be different. They will depend on the best options to save you the most energy. Some of the energy upgrades that How$martKY may help pay for are:
- Heater and/or air conditioner replacement
- Duct work and air sealing
- Weatherization: such as caulking, patching holes, weather-stripping, etc.
- New insulation
How does the financing work?
One great thing about How$martKY is that it is NOT a loan. It is simply a line item on your electric bill. This set fee pays back the amount of the energy upgrade, right on your bill, over time. You don’t need to have the money up-front. Another great thing is that the monthly charge stays with the electric meter, not with the person.
This means that renters can qualify, or, if you move, you don’t have to keep paying for the upgrades. The next electric user will both pay for the upgrades on the bill, as well as see the savings.
Average Monthly Electric Bill Before and After How$martKY:
Why would a power company want me to use less electricity? Is this for real?
Yes, this is real. Today it costs utilities hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new power plant--that’s a huge financial risk for our small co-ops. It makes financial sense for the co-op to reduce the need to build these costly plants, and so it makes sense for them to help their members save energy. In the end, saving energy is good for everyone.
Rick Handshoe lives in Hueysville and he contacted Big Sandy RECC to see if he qualified for How$martKY.
The energy assessment showed that Rick had an inefficient electric furnace and a drafty mobile home. Contractors installed a new heat pump and sealed air leaks. Now he’s paying for the upgrades right on his bill AND saving a little extra money.