Better Energy (Be.) Program: Apple Valley, Minn.
The city of Apple Valley, Minn., in partnership with local energy utilities and area non-profits, developed an innovative full-service energy program that uses a combination of social marketing, education, professional evaluations and innovative feedback to encourage residential energy conservation and efficiency.
This program, Be. (Better Energy) Apple Valley, has engaged over 750 households to reach a community-wide target of 1.5% energy savings annually. Since 2008 over 679 homeowners have had a professional energy assessment of their home, with 27% of those homeowners acting on at least one of the recommended upgrades. It is estimated that, to date, this program has provided Apple Valley and its residents with roughly $437,000 in energy savings over the lifetime of the products.
Be. Apple Valley is part of a larger community-wide effort to reduce energy costs and also includes programs for commercial and public energy efficiency (not discussed here). By placing this residential energy program within a larger framework of energy efficiency and direct household cost-savings, the city has been able to promote a program that fits with the community’s goals and builds on the momentum that already exists.
The Be. program components include community-based marketing, direct consumer action, one-stop insulation and air sealing, innovative feedback, web-based tracking and feedback and contractor training and certification.
Low tech energy improvements for the home are quick ways to engage residents and help educate them on the value of energy efficiency, making future efforts at energy efficiency programs much easier to promote.
It’s important to develop strategic marketing efforts. For example, publicize energy efficiency should be during cold/winter months when residents can see the value of it; place signage in high visibility areas and activities; and utilize your community activists to get the word out.
Social marketing and extensive community engagement is key to ensuring the long term investment of residents in energy efficiency programs (take a look at the Be. program’s Facebook page and Twitter feed).
Partnerships with local utilities and non-profits committed to energy efficiency will reduce the cost and capacity burden on the city, while automatically ensuring that other entities within the community are also invested in energy efficiency. Such partnerships also establish a culture of energy efficiency throughout the city.
Tools that visually display efficiency improvements and lowered costs are useful in encouraging residents to continue with energy efficient improvements. Additionally, a tool (such as the one that Apple Valley utilizes) which displays a consumer’s energy consumption relative to others’ consumption in the community helps instill healthy competition.
For More Information:
Assistant City Administrator, City of Apple Valley
Reduction in, or elimination of, the use of natural and other energy resources. Also includes installations or modifications of equipment or systems intended to reduce energy use and costs.Energy efficiency is the process of using less energy to produce the same or increased functions. Often used mistakenly as a synonym for ENERGY CONSERVATION. The ability or potential of a physical body to do work. The most common forms of energy are heat, light, mechanical (moving parts), and electrical.