New Program Connects County Residents with Qualified Volunteers to Make Money-Saving Changes
FAIRFAX, Va. – Oct. 1, 2020 – Today, the Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination announced the launch of a new countywide program to educate, empower, and enable residents to make changes that reduce energy use, water use, and associated costs in their homes. The HomeWise program brings qualified volunteers together with low- and moderate-income county residents to make physical improvements to their homes, and to provide support for behavior changes that are proven to conserve resources and money.
A demographics report released in January 2020 showed that, while Fairfax County is the seventh richest county in the nation based on median household income, more than six percent of county residents live in poverty. With a county population of more than 1.2 million individuals, this amounts to more than 75,000 residents living below the poverty line.
In 2015, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released data illustrating the burden of energy bills on low-income households across the country. The EIA research revealed that one in three U.S. households struggled to pay their energy bills in 2015. In addition, they found that one-fifth of American households chose to forgo basic necessities like food or medicine in order to pay their energy bills.
Nationally, households regularly spending more than six percent of their income on energy bills are classified as having a high energy burden. Key factors contributing to a high household energy burden include poor insulation, inefficient HVAC systems, lack of knowledge about energy conservation measures, lack of access to information about energy efficiency, and lack of programs and policies to support weatherization of low- and moderate-income housing. The Fairfax County HomeWise program aims to address several of these issues. Program elements include hands-on demonstrations and workshops for affordable housing building owners, managers and residents as well as physical improvements to individual housing units and educational offerings for all ages.
“The HomeWise program addresses a critical need in Fairfax County, to help financially struggling residents conserve both energy and water at home, thereby reducing their monthly utility costs,” said Jeff McKay, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “This program empowers individual residents to live more efficiently and comfortably, while also supporting our community-wide effort to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This is a smart, worthwhile initiative and I encourage county residents to get involved.”
The program announcement comes at the outset of Energy Action Month, a nationally recognized month of awareness and action around energy efficiency and conservation lasting from October 1 through October 31. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has issued a proclamation officially recognizing October 7, 2020 as Energy Efficiency Day and calling on county residents to take steps to save energy at home.
The Fairfax County HomeWise program call for volunteers is open through November 1. For more information on the program and opportunities to get involved, please visit the HomeWise web page