Arlington, Virginia – The Beneficial Electrification League (BEL) today announced the launch of “Weatherization-Electrification Together,” a national initiative to electrify low- and moderate-income and disadvantaged communities. Supported by a grant from Wells Fargo Bank’s Institute for Sustainable Finance, the effort will focus developing cost-effective residential electrification progams to benefit consumers, reduce carbon emissions and make the grid more efficient and resilient.
The initiative will be supported by a grant from Wells Fargo’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, and supports the development of a financing model for home energy retrofits that will reduce monthly energy bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from home heating, and improve health and safety of the home by switching transitioning from fossil fuel such as propane and oil to electricity in low-income homes.
“As the trend towards building electrification grows, so do risks for consumers left behind, paying a high percentage of household income on energy to run old, inefficient appliances,” explains BEL President Keith Dennis. “This project seeks to bring energy efficiency experts together with the emerging electrification industry to develop models that will extend the benefits of electrification to low- and moderate-income households.”
Wide-scale electrification of buildings faces significant barriers, especially in low-income and disadvantaged communities where the up-front cost of a transition is beyond the reach of many households.
According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the national average energy burden for low-income households is 8.6%, three times higher than for non-low-income households which is estimated at 3%. A survey in 2021 found that over 60% of Americans could not afford a home-related emergency that costs $1,000. Electrification of a home costs thousands of dollars in up-front costs but saves money over time in the form of on-going fuel cost reductions.
With generous funding from the Wells-Fargo grant, BEL will lead a team of electric cooperatives, LMI community representatives, electric utilities and other stakeholders, including manufacturers, to demonstrate a nationally scalable model for deep energy retrofits in LMI single family and manufactured housing.
The project will develop and demonstrate retrofits that cost-effectively use electricity to reduce overall energy consumption. The retrofits will consist of the following:
- Health and safety upgrades, such as leaking roofs and asbestos
- Weatherization upgrades, such as air infiltration control and insulation
- Beneficial electrification (i.e., shifting from fossil fuels to electricity for space heating, water heating and cooking), and
- Local generation such as rooftop solar and/or battery storage.
The project will also explore advanced water heating options that can support grid resilience and reduce costs for consumers. The Beneficial Electrification League (BEL) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works to accelerate the uptake of electrification that delivers on the environmental imperative of climate change while also benefiting energy consumers and a resilient grid.