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Phoenix Overcomes Barriers and Energizes Homeowners to Make Upgrades

A photo of a residence.Energize Phoenix is saving energy and money for homeowners, generating jobs, and transforming a diverse array of neighborhoods along a 10-mile stretch of the city's light rail line. Energize Phoenix's residential programs are open to homeowners of all income levels, but low-to-moderate income homeowners may realize greater benefits from energy efficiency upgrades because their homes often have older, inefficient equipment. Because upfront costs can deter low- to moderate-income residents from making upgrades, Energize Phoenix developed two programs to specifically address energy efficiency with this audience.

The Energy Assist Program offers grants of 60% to 100% of the cost of an energy efficiency upgrade based on income for single-family detached, low-to-moderate income homeowners that meet income requirements. The Energize Phoenix Rental Program allows apartment complex owners who agree to reserve 67% or more of their units for low-to-moderate-income residents to qualify for a grant to cover eligible energy efficiency project costs.

The Energize Phoenix corridor faced some challenges to program marketing and development, despite the great incentives available to residents. The corridor cut some established neighborhoods in half, which caused confusion about program eligibility and made it difficult to conduct advertising. Other obstacles in the community include language barriers and a lack of energy efficiency education.

Despite initial challenges, Energize Phoenix moved forward with door-to-door marketing and partnerships to help reach homeowners. The Neighborhood Services Department, which manages the residential component of Energize Phoenix, stepped in to add its experience working on weatherization programs in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods. This partnership allows Energize Phoenix to draw on the department's experience working in neighborhoods and its long-standing relationships with trusted community leaders and organizations.

To solve issues stemming from language barriers, Energize Phoenix utilizes Spanish-speaking outreach staff and created Spanish-language marketing collateral and program applications to help customers understand the incentives available to them. In addition, the program uses non-profit partnerships, neighborhood meetings, trusted community leaders, and home visits in an effort to lend program legitimacy and put program participants at ease, says Aubrey Anaya, Energize Phoenix project manager.

Energize Phoenix has completed more than 900 residential energy assessments since the program launched in 2010, and has helped low-to-moderate-income residents better understand how they can save energy in their homes. With this community outreach in progress, the project is on its way to making a great impact in the corridor.