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How Elyria, Ohio, Is Putting Money Back in Its Citizens Pockets

May 11, 2011 - 1:49pm

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Elyria might be the quintessential example of a middle-class American town. Located just off the coast of Lake Erie in northern Ohio, Elyria boasts a rich history rooted in the successes of an array of small businesses dating back to the early 19th century. Unfortunatlely, more and more of those businesses have had to close up shop in recent years due to the economic challenges facing many of our historic rust belt towns. So when the city was awarded $535,500 as part of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program, city officials decided to take that money back to the people by encouraging homeowners to make energy improvements and weatherize their homes through rebate incentives.

Already the program has received a tremendous response from the community with more than 890 applications for programmable thermostats and 300 applications for weatherization rebates. The program was so successful that all available funds were completely committed by the end of December 2010. The city sought feedback from the early participants in the program to evaluate how the program was managed. The response rate was more than 60 percent, and 87 percent rated the level of service as “excellent.” The additional comments from respondents explained how the voucher program had personally affected their lives and improved the quality of life for their families.

Here are a few responses:

  • “We were still using a coal converted furnace from 1920. We knew we were going to replace it at some point. This program helped us decide to do it now rather than later. We are so glad we did.”
  • “This is a wonderful opportunity for people to get energy savings things done at this time of financial stress with the help from this program. Help that they might not have been able to do without assistance.”
  • “Our family would not have been able to replace our hot water tank and have attic and wall insulation put in without a financial hardship. Thank you very much.”
  • “In lieu of my husband passing, the help came at a great time. Having three kids, it would have been very difficult to purchase a new hot water heater on my own…Thank you, thank you for your help.”
  • “My gas bill has been half of what it was last year. It just means so much to me!”

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