Utility bill image
Image credit: KEEM program video.

More than 1,200 homes in Knoxville, Tennessee have new makeovers. But instead of window treatments, accent walls, and throw pillows, they got new insulation, water heaters, and heating and cooling systems.

Low-income people often struggle to pay utility bills. So with the help of a $15 million grant, Knoxville created the “Extreme Energy Makeover Program.” The two-year effort provided free energy-saving retrofits to low-income residents …

Gill: “… so that they could bring those bills down long term and as a result become more financially independent and more financially stable, while at the same time creating environmental benefits in the form of reduced electricity use.”

Erin Gill, the city’s director of sustainability, says participating families have seen their electric bills cut by nearly 30%.

Climate change is expected to bring hotter summers – and higher cooling bills – to places like Knoxville.

Gill: “That’s a significant impact for families not only in terms of the financial aspect but also in terms of comfort.”

So, she says the need to improve energy efficiency for low-income families will grow.

Gill: “This type of work is going to become increasingly important as we experience climate change.”

Reporting credit: Daisy Simmons/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Filed under: