Many families in the mountains of North Carolina are familiar with the burden of high energy bills, especially during the cold winter months. Fortunately, residents of the High Country now have an opportunity to make their homes more energy efficient and save money on their monthly electricity bills for years to come.
Appalachian Voices has launched our second High Country Home Energy Makeover Contest for residential members of Blue Ridge Energy (BRE) who live in the High Country. Five semi-finalists will receive a free home energy audit to pinpoint where their home is losing energy and wasting money. Of those, the household that will benefit the most from home upgrades will win the grand prize of $4,000 for those improvements.
Appalachian Voices has teamed up with reNew Home Inc., a local home performance business from Boone, N.C. to perform the energy audits and upgrades. The company was also a key partner in our first contest, held in 2014. (Read about past winners.)
“Home improvements can significantly reduce the high energy bills that many households in the High Country struggle with during the cold winter months,” says John Kidda, founder of reNew Home. “I would estimate that typical families here could reduce their heating costs by 25% to 40% by retrofitting their homes up to current code levels. In addition to making their homes safer, cozier, and less repair-prone, these families could save hundreds of dollars or more every year.”
“Retrofitting local homes to be more energy efficient also helps reduce harmful energy-related pollution while growing local jobs and economic development opportunities,” says Rebecca Bauer, North Carolina Energy Savings Outreach Associate at Appalachian Voices.
Many families in the region are unable to benefit from energy efficiency because they fall in the gap between being eligible for free, federally funded low-income weatherization assistance and being able to afford a loan to finance home upgrades. Some rural electric cooperatives have filled this gap by offering energy efficiency financing available to all their members. BRE has a loan program for some eligible homeowners, but does not currently have a program that fills this important gap.
The High Country Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative was founded by students Lily Mize and Olivia Nelson from the Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University. While the initial goal for the project was to fund a grant to help local nonprofits become more sustainable, it grew to encompass fostering connections between the university and the local community.
The deadline has been extended to Tuesday, April 24 at midnight.
**This blog has been edited on March 23 to reflect an increase in the grand prize value from $2,500 to $4,000.
If you would like to get involved in efforts to create more community-focused programs that are accessible by all members of BRE, please contact Lauren Essick, our NC Energy Savings Outreach Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-262-1500. For questions about the home energy makeover contest contact Becca Bauer at email@example.com or 828-262-1500.