IndEco designs award winning low-income residential energy efficiency program

Friday, 29 July 2005

Brantford Power received the 2005 EDA Annual Innovations Award under the Customer Service Category for the Conserving Homes program. IndEco, along with Share the Warmth and Brantford Power designed the Conserving Homes Program to be accessible to meet the needs of low-income households, both renters and homeowners, in the City of Brantford. The program provided, at no cost to the low-income participants, energy efficiency measures and education that allowed participants to reduce their electricity consumption and “energy burden” (percent of household income devoted to energy costs) and improve their level of comfort.

The Conserving Homes program was a pilot that ran in the City of Brantford from 2005 to 2006. The Ontario Power Authority's low-income residential pilot program and multi-family energy efficiency rebate program that followed this LDC third tranche pilot was built on the design and results of Conserving Homes.

The purpose of Conserving Homes was to lower the disproportionate energy burden of low-income households through the implementation of energy saving measures and the provision of one-on-one education and facilitation services. Participants in the Conserving Homes program received:
  • A home energy assessment;
  • Installation of energy saving measures (for example, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, programmable thermostats)
  • Energy conservation education
In addition, some participants were eligible for other energy conservation measures such as high efficiency refrigerators and air conditioners to replace existing appliances.

According to the 2001 census by Statistics Canada, 14.4% of Ontario residents (or 1,611,505 persons) were living at or below the pre-tax, post-transfer low income cut offs (LICOs) – a widely accepted measurement of poverty lines – in 2000. These low-income households face a much higher ‘energy burden’; a higher percentage of their income is devoted to energy than other households. In 2002 the lowest income earners in Ontario spent nearly five times the relative amount of their income on fuel, electricity and water than did the highest income earners. They face a higher energy burden because regardless of energy price there is a certain amount of energy required to heat and light a household. This energy is more expensive because low income households, typically use electric space heating and water heating which is more costly than other fuels, live in older buildings, and have older, less energy efficient equipment and appliances. The inability to pay utilities is also one of the leading economic causes of homelessness. To stave off homelessness, low-income families often have to make impossible choices between eating and heating.

Related information

Brantford Power Conservation and Demand Management Plan
Brantford Power website
Share the Warmth website