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DIY Home Efficiency Project In Kauai Yields Incredible Results

Recently, we covered the DIY home efficiency program Kauai is using as an economic recovery and resilience tool. The idea behind the project was to provide immediate and ongoing economic relief to residents who were negatively affected by the economic fallout of COVID-19.

Recently, we covered the DIY home efficiency program Kauai is using as an economic recovery and resilience tool. The idea behind the project was to provide immediate and ongoing economic relief to residents who were negatively affected by the economic fallout of COVID-19. The results are astonishing.

Using the Technical Reference Manual (TRM) data from Hawaii Energy, and our own calculations of the economic and environmental impacts of other products that fall outside the TRM (like clotheslines), the County of Kauai is injecting $4 into its economy for every $1 it spends by saving residents on their utility bills.

Home efficiency self-audit

Free home efficiency self-audit available here

In economic parlance, a “multiplier effect” makes this impact even bigger. A multiplier effect is the result of a resident of Kauai saving money they’d otherwise spend on utilities (much of which goes out of Hawaii to buy fossil fuels), and instead using it to buy groceries or crafts from their local farmer’s markets, meals from local restaurants, etc. Those farmers and restauranteurs then spend the money on other things on Kauai, meaning the money continues to ricochet around the local economy and keep locals employed.

This is the definition of resilience

Ben Sullivan of Kauai’s Office of Economic Development said this program was “about providing any and all means of economic relief to Kauai households who have had to deal with a complete freefall in the local economy. Efficiency is a resilience tool because it reduces our dependence on outside resources during times of disruption, which are inevitable with island economies.”

Helping people be free of fossil fuels not only helps the environment, it helps those people pay for their other needs. Every step to resiliency is a step toward a better future. Local energy and local food are huge parts of the answers to economic development in our COVID-19 affected world.

The impacts on Kauai

As mentioned, every dollar spent on this home efficiency program is helping generate $4 per year worth of savings for Kauai residents. Over 150 people have already participated in the program, and the overall impact is that Kauai should have over a million dollars more over 10 years circulating in its economy, money that otherwise would primarily have been used to buy oil. All this for less than $40,000 spent.

In addition to the financial impacts, the county will be using less water and less energy, resulting in less carbon pollution.

Below are some results of surveys sent pre- and post-program.

Before:

After:

Before:

After:

In addition, it’s clear people want to share the good work.

 
 
 
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Written By

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is a serial eco-entrepreneur focused on making the world a better place for all its residents. Scott is the founder of CleanTechnica and was just smart enough to hire someone smarter than him to run it. He then started Pono Home, a service that greens homes, which has performed efficiency retrofits on more than 16,000 homes and small businesses, reducing carbon pollution by more than 27 million pounds a year and saving customers more than $6.3 million a year on their utilities. In a previous life, Scott was an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill) , and Green Living Ideas.

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