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