The Fairfax County HomeWise program exists to educate, empower, and enable residents to make changes that reduce energy use, water use, and associated costs in their homes. Trained volunteers assist low- and moderate-income residents with physical improvements to their homes and provide support for behavior changes that are proven to conserve resources and money.
The program was officially launched in 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and has been shaped in part by public health concerns since the outset. For instance, the first class of volunteers, which was recruited in the fall of 2020, completed their initial training online using Google Classroom and via periodic meetings over Zoom.The HomeWise volunteers received training on the environmental, technical, and social aspects of various efficiency and conservation projects. Topics ranged from energy vampires, to a deep dive on lightbulbs, to indoor environmental quality, to water conservation and beyond. This content was delivered over the course of a 10-week training program developed by subject matter experts within the Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination.
Over the summer, volunteers were invited to create written and multimedia materials to support the program using the knowledge gained during their training. Working individually, volunteers were given the option of creating fact sheets, step-by-step instruction sheets for specific projects, short instructional videos, and more.
Now in its second year, HomeWise is poised to begin limited community engagement efforts and to recruit a second class of volunteers. As the public health crisis continues to evolve, the HomeWise team is dedicated to creating engagement opportunities that meet the program objectives while also safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our volunteers and of all public participants.
In late September or early October, HomeWise volunteers will regroup in person for a hands-on training to practice their weatherization skills. In the first two weeks of October, the volunteers and HomeWise program staff will host one or more tabling events outdoors at local libraries to hand out home weatherization kits, do demonstrations of specific weatherization projects, and to answer questions from residents.
Stay tuned for more information on upcoming events and opportunities to get involved with the HomeWise program.
This article is the first in a series. A new HomeWise Monthly Update will be published roughly every four weeks and will provide a snapshot of work completed and anticipated activities in the weeks ahead. Check out our Home Energy Savings news feed, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with all the latest HomeWise news.