Editor’s Note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave On the ground Battle Creek range.
Battle Creek residents interested in saving money on their utility bills and building more energy efficient homes can register for free until August 13th Energy analysis at home offered through Consumers Energy.
In addition to benefiting homeowners and tenants, the program raises funds for the Battle Creek branch of of NAACP (National Association for the Promotion of Colored People).
“Consumers are working with minority and women-led nonprofits to promote this program and turn it into a fundraiser,” said Kathy Antaya, who leads the fundraiser and is the third vice president of the local NAACP. “They really go out of their way to target black and brown communities where people are least likely to let ‘the man’ into their home.”
To sign up, people should click here or visit HomeEnergyAnalysis.com or call 833-685-1312 to make an appointment. When registering online, enter NAACPBC in the promotional code field. When you call to make an appointment, Antaya says, “Be sure to give the call center agent the code.”
She hopes this will build people’s confidence in the work Consumers Energy is doing to save money and in their own ability to make these kinds of improvements.
“It makes a lot of sense to me, especially for households that are less energy efficient and more likely to benefit from it, and these are mostly low-income people or people who don’t trust a white person to come to their door,” Antaya says.
Although the fundraising opportunity has existed with organizations in the east of the state for several years, this is the first time an organization in Battle Creek has had the opportunity to partner with Consumers Energy, says Erin Donnelly, senior marketing & outreach manager for energy efficient solutions Logistics, LLC. SEEL, LLC is a Certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and an Authorized Consumers Energy Contractor based in Comstock Park.
The payment for partner organizations is based on a tiered system. For every 50 energy analysis appointments completed, an organization receives US $ 500; for all 75 appointments this amount is $ 1,000 and continues from there up to a maximum of $ 5,000 for 200 completed appointments.
Donnelly says there were seven completed Battle Creek events listed as of yesterday.
“We need at least 50 visits to start a fundraiser,” says Antaya. “Our goal is 200 visits. We struggled to get 20. “
The participating organizations had a three-month window to register and complete appointments. The fundraiser began June 13th in Battle Creek, and Antaya hopes more people will sign up before the deadline.
Antaya is one of the seven people who already have an energy analysis carried out at home. During this analysis, she had 30 lightbulbs replaced and received four LED night lights, all free of charge for her. She says if her house, which is around 50 years old, had an electrical water connection, she could have got free plastic wrap and insulation for the hot water pipes and tape sealant for the water heater.
“The man who did my energy analysis was very experienced and professional,” says Antaya. “He made me feel so comfortable. He even pointed out a few things that had nothing to do with energy efficiency and asked questions such as whether I had had a radon test done in my basement. “
The technicians who perform the personal analyzes bring items such as light bulbs and insulation, and replace and install anything needed during the visit. Those doing the virtual analyzes will be sent home free of charge materials that may be needed for improvement.
In addition to the items that Antaya replaced, premium upgrades are available for those who are 200 percent or below the federal poverty line, which according to the U.S. Department of Health or 80 percent of the Annual Median Income (AMI), which in Calhoun County was $ 49,055, according to the US Census Bureau.
These premium upgrades include items like new refrigerators, dehumidifiers, or air conditioners, says Donnelly.
“We carry out the initial assessment and if you are eligible for the premium upgrades, we will contact you and see if you are interested. If so, you will need to provide proof of income eligibility. Order a new refrigerator and set up delivery and installation. “
Donnelly says the energy analysis program is funded by an average fee of 30 cents that is part of the monthly bill that Consumers Energy customers receive.
“The whole point of this fundraising program is to help the community and the businesses and organizations in that community, and to help the community save money on their energy bills on an individual basis,” says Donnelly. “People get very hesitant when they hear the word ‘free’. But it’s something that every customer is already paying for. There is a small fee on your bill that goes straight to funding this program. “
“The program is completely free to anyone in Michigan who is a Consumers Energy customer,” says Donnelly. “Consumers Energy offers virtual and personal appointments to give tips on energy efficiency and energy reports at home that show customers their energy consumption and how they can save money. The aim is to reduce energy consumption. We have certain goals that we want to achieve as a company that uses energy. If we can help the customer in any way, we want to do that. “
Read more articles from Jane Simons.
Jane Simons is a freelance reporter and writer with over 20 years of experience and the owner of In so many words based in Battle Creek. She is the project editor for On the Ground Battle Creek.