Helping Customers Afford Energy Bills
Low-income customers typically pay 3 to 5 times what an average residential consumer pays for energy, as a percentage of income, making them particularly susceptible to rate increases or otherwise higher energy costs. By providing these end-users with opportunities to lower their monthly bills, energy conservation programs fulfill an important social need. The money that families save on energy can help them make mortgage payments, and pay for food, clothing and other essentials.
Low-income customers are more likely to live in older, draftier homes meaning that basic weatherization measures, which can be performed at low-cost to your utility, can yield substantial energy savings.
Many of the most successful programs target customers with the highest energy use or savings potential, and are often equal parts retrofit and customer education. Targeting these customers helps to make a program more cost-effective, but the awareness elements are what make the savings sustainable.
A common thread in the best practices and case studies found here is the emphasis on the importance of partnerships with community action agencies and other local non-profits that already have access to the target audience and are already a trusted source of information. Many of these local outreach agencies have decades of experience in low-income weatherization, and they can easily expand their services to include program features that interest utilities.
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Help your peers by sharing your utility's successful strategies for targeting income-challenged customers. Contribute cases studies and resources, or comment on existing information and participate in discussion forums.