Help for Energy Hogs: A stone for their soup

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Many nonprofits have ancient heating systems, inefficient lighting, and little insulation in the attic. These critical community centers pay high energy bills while their emissions hurt the planet. They often don’t have the time, financing, or expertise to upgrade their buildings.

Enter: HEET’s Help for Energy Hogs program
Starting in September of 2014, HEET performed energy efficiency upgrades for nonprofits in Greater Boston with energy bills of $15,000 or higher. HEET ran the program, supplying both time and efficiency expertise, while other partners provided financing, upgrades, rebates, and outreach.

One success story
Cambridge YMCA saw immediate and large savings that allowed them to pay for other needed work. With upgraded lighting, controls, and steam traps, the building was more comfortable and attractive.

What we learned
Larger nonprofits with energy bills of $100,000 or more are our best market. They have the staff capacity and are accustomed to making complicated financial decisions.

Offering financing helped motivate even smaller nonprofits. Enticed by the carrot of not having to pay upfront costs, they shared their energy bills and invested precious time in energy assessments. We had their attention long enough to assess their buildings and explain the best ways to reduce energy bills and emissions.

Many nonprofits took action on their own: Salem’s House of Seven Gables, Boston’s Islamic Center, Quincy’s Wollaston Lutheran Church, and Roxbury’s Casa Esperanza. Each of these critical organizations can now afford more services to their communities and decrease their impact on the planet.

We’re reminded of the fable Stone Soup that tells how the promise of a delicious soup made from only a boiled stone motivates skeptics to contribute their own food to the meal. Up-front financing is the stone many nonprofits need to give their time and money to take action.

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