There are beaucoup bucks available to American households to improve their energy efficiency and lower their utility bills in the Inflation Reduction Act, but many people are unaware of those benefits and how to claim them. Rewiring America wants to get the word out to local individuals and communities so they can tap into that money themselves.
According to Canary Media, the White House announced this week that seven companies are joining Rewiring America in a collaborative effort to educate their users and customers about the full range of rebates, tax credits, and low cost financing for electrification and home energy efficiency available under the Inflation Reduction Act. The companies are:
- Arcadia, a utility and energy market data platform partnering with community solar developers
- Duquesne Light Company, a Pennsylvania power utility
- Mosaic, a company that provides loans for home solar installations and efficiency upgrades
- Propel, a software developer for low-income households and creators of the Providers app for managing SNAP food-assistance benefits
- Redfin, a real estate brokerage with offices across the US
When households jettison fossil fuel appliances, they can cut their energy bills. For example, heating costs are expected to rise this winter as natural gas prices go up, but electric heat pumps can help keep owners’ costs down. Rewiring America estimates that the average household qualifies for $10,600 in IRA benefits to electrify their lives. The problem is that most families don’t know about them.
“One of the best ways for people to get that information is through platforms [of companies] that they have relationships with already and engage with on a regular basis,” said Ari Matusiak, CEO of Rewiring America. The member companies can push the pro-electrification message out to their networks.
Rewiring America set a goal for the coalition to reach 10 million of the 121 million US households through the education campaign in “the next couple of years,” Matusiak told Canary Media.
Some of the companies are not traditionally climate focused. But all have broad reach — Redfin alone reports that more than 50 million prospective home buyers scour its website each month looking at properties. Redfin aims to provide home buyers and owners with more information on “how to renovate their homes to emit fewer greenhouse gasses,” Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, said in a statement.
Airbnb wants hosts on its platform to be able to “adopt more sustainable practices for their homes,” Ameet Konkar, head of sustainability at the company, said in a statement. “We are excited to equip them with the right information and tools.”
And Lyft wants to help its drivers break up with their gas guzzling cars. “The benefits included in the IRA will help more Americans, including many who drive with Lyft, finally afford an electric vehicle,” Paul Augustine, director of sustainability at Lyft, added in the same announcement. The awareness campaign “is an important step” in letting drivers know that funds are available.
“It’s exciting” that the campaign brings together “companies from very different parts of the American economy,” said Kiran Bhatraju, CEO of Arcadia, a company with deep roots in the climate sphere. “All day, Arcadia talks about clean energy and savings around electricity. But having [other] companies talk about your transportation and your food and housing — that’s really important.” He told Canary Media it brings the message to far more customers.
The coalition makes it easier to share expertise among the companies on the complex clean energy landscape. “In America, we have 50 states and what can feel like 50 energy markets,” Bhatraju said. “We’re going to do our part to help…other companies as they have questions on how to navigate [them].”
Companies could use a range of tactics for educating their constituencies. For instance, Rewiring America and Mosaic, which works with 3,200 clean energy contractors, organized two webinars in September for contractors and other solar and home energy professionals on the benefits available in the climate law. Hundreds attended, said Sam Jammal, Mosaic’s chief of staff. Those groups created easily shareable FAQs to address common questions as a result.
Another “great tool” that Jammal said companies can draw on is Rewiring America’s savings calculator. Families can enter information into the calculator about where they live and their household income to see what federal electrification and efficiency incentives they qualify for.
When a family’s gas furnace breaks down, they’ll be faced with a choice to replace that system, Jammal said: stick with fossil gas or go with an electric heat pump? That decision “largely depends on…the contractor understanding those products and the incentives attached to them,” Jammal said. But it also hinges on the consumer “asking for them.”
With the new coalition of companies, which will add more members over the coming months, the goal is “to create a connection with every household in America and enable them to understand what benefits are available to them,” Matusiak said.
The good news here is that the Rewiring America campaign is leveraging a diverse group of companies that can reach into underserved neighborhoods where the benefits made available by the IRA can have the most impact when it comes to lowering carbon emissions by making them more energy efficient. That’s a critical step in the carbon reduction process.
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