This stat may surprise you; in the energy capital of Canada nearly one quarter of Albertan households are facing energy poverty.
Energy poverty is defined as struggling to pay your energy bills. In Alberta, 22 per cent of households live in energy poverty (that’s over 300,000 families). A common misconception is that only low income households live with energy poverty. In reality, the majority of people living with energy poverty are not low income. Many lower middle-class families who own their homes experience energy poverty in Calgary. These families are hit hard by energy price increases and are often unable to upgrade their homes to reduce their energy usage and reduce their bills.
There are other risks to energy poverty besides being unable to financially handle bills. Some residents are living in damp or drafty homes, and have problems with mould, mildew or leaking gas. The constant stress of energy poverty can also affect mental health. Energy education isn’t just about saving money or the environment, it’s about being safe and healthy in your own homes.
Designed to address energy poverty, Empower Me’s Home Upgrades Program is the first of its kind for Alberta, it officially launched in late June 2018.
In partnership with Energy Efficiency Alberta, Empower Me Alberta’s Home Upgrades Program will help those who struggle to pay their energy bills by giving them access to free home upgrades that will help reduce their energy consumption and improve the safety and comfort of their home.
Empower Me will provide fully subsidized upgrades for over 100 households living in energy poverty. Home upgrades will be based on the needs of each home and can include energy efficient measures such as installing or replacing insulation, fixing broken windows, weather-stripping doors, and installing programmable thermostats. The one-year pilot program is designed to develop an understanding of the issues inside Calgary homes with the goal of scaling to province-wide.
“We are excited to be addressing energy poverty in Calgary and making a real and measurable impact on families’ lives,” said Yasmin Abraham, Managing Director of Empower Me Alberta. “The pilot program allows us to gain a practical understanding of the challenges inside Albertan homes and the scope of upgrades required to alleviate them. Our goal is to gather quantitative data that will allow the province to develop a plan to address the larger market.“
Also in Vancouver, Empower Me met with Calgary Economic Development earlier this year to secure real estate and get connected with the energy community in our city and province. Creating green jobs in Alberta, this family-based company chose Calgary because of the growth potential and opportunity they recognized in the City. The high caliber of applications and impressive talent pool in Calgary made their first round of hiring a breeze.
A free education and energy conservation program that helps Alberta's multilingual and multicultural communities save energy and make their homes more comfortable and safe, Empower Me’s educational program will double as an outreach channel for identifying potential candidates for the Home Upgrades Program. For more information or to register interest in the pilot, visit www.empowermeprogram.ca/AB.