On May 18th the city of Albany held a panel on energy efficiency for renters. It was an excellent talk and provided many tips and resources. The panelists were from the organizations Energy Upgrade California (EUC), Bay Area Energy Network (BayREN), Rising Sun Center for Opportunity, and East Bay Community Energy (EBCE).
To start off, Energy Upgrade California is a statewide initiative to help California reach its energy goals in accordance with the 2015 SB350 bill. This past year has made it more challenging to be energy efficient but there are personal behavioral changes that can both help the planet and reduce your energy bills. The main things to think about are lights and heating; they are the biggest energy users in a home. EUC asks that if you can, set your thermostat to 68 degrees or below on cool days, and 78 degrees or above on hot days so that heating and cooling aren’t using up your energy. In terms of lighting, maximizing natural light is the best thing to do as well as being aware of lights that are on in unoccupied rooms.
The EUC also provides various useful resources for renters including an energy audit checklist on their website where you can see what you’re doing right and what you could be doing better. You can also sign up for text reminders through the EUC where you will receive weekly energy challenges and be able to see how you contributed to energy saving in your city.
The organization Stop Waste was the BayREN representative at this panel. They offer the resource of the Home Energy Advisor call line where you can speak to an expert about the issues in your home and identify retrofitting that can increase your energy efficiency and your overall comfort within your home. They also emphasized thinking about furnaces, insulation, and draft all together as a home system so that heating energy isn’t lost.
Rising Sun Center for Opportunity runs a program called Climate Careers where young people (ages 15-22) are offered training and jobs. The main program under this that is pertinent to renters is the Greenhouse Call program where youth visit your house and install minor retrofits to increase energy efficiency as well as educate residents on beneficial behaviors. It’s worth noting that this program has somewhat changed due to the pandemic. Rather than people calling your home, you fill out a survey and are sent a free energy and water efficiency kit to help retrofit your home. These installations don’t have to be approved by a landlord as they are not permanent changes.
East Bay Community Energy described their various energy programs. In Alameda they provide customers with clean energy at competitive rates. They are the default energy company for Alameda County, and they work through PG&E to help California reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.
This energy panel stands out in that it provides solutions open to renters. Many times when we discuss personal decisions that can be made to combat climate change, there is a disparity in terms of income. A lot of the suggestions of green choices require homeownership or increased expense. This panel was important in that it gave solutions that are better for the environment, cheaper, and don’t require homeownership. It provided equitable solutions that are open to all.
To watch the full video, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygaY3kzUEl4
Websites of the Organizations:
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