By Litzy Gastelum Arguelles, Marketing Intern Summer 2020 & Spring 2021
Patriotism and pride emblazoned the streets of Boston when I first moved to the city of champions. The streets were a kaleidoscope of blue, white, and red as people made their way to a nearby bar or their neighbor’s house to watch a Patriots football game. At first, I didn’t know that this was not an anomaly, New England pride is vibrant and present in the everyday lives of Bostonians. As a marketing intern at All In Energy, I learned that it even existed within energy efficiency conversations. “Massachusetts is proud to be recognized as leading the nation in energy efficiency for the ninth year in a row, and reflects the state’s efforts to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions while saving residents and business money on their energy bills,” Governor Charlie Baker stated in 2019. Unfortunately, while there is a constant effort by community organizations like All In Energy and Massachusetts state legislators to promote energy efficiency, there continue to be disparities in the energy sector that affect minority communities’ wellbeing.
Energy insecurity is more complex than the economics behind it. In technical terms, energy insecurity in a household results when the money spent on fuel and electricity is greater than 10% of a household’s income. The financial burden of energy-related costs on a low-income family is one dimension associated with energy insecurity. Late payments on utility bills reflect financial hardship but can also be linked to billing issues, landlord improprieties, and seasonal variations as well as building-level inefficiencies that increased costs. When families fall behind on their utility bills, oftentimes they stay in a constant cycle of playing catch-up because they try to prioritize more important necessities. This within the industry is considered the “heat or eat” dilemma where low-income constituents are made to decide between food and energy, often sacrificing one for the other.
Some may argue that income assistance helps outset energy costs and solves the issue of energy insecurity. However, this is not the case. On average, it's reported that monthly bills can be between $100 and 300 dollars, with considerable variations by season and housing type. To put this economic burden in perspective, according to Massachusetts State guidelines in 2012 a household of four receiving public assistance would net $691 in cash assistance, a portion of which would need to be allocated to utility expenses. At $200 per month, utility bills would represent nearly thirty percent of this assistance, and therefore a significant and likely unaffordable expense. This would also render those at the federal poverty line ($23,050 for a family of four in 2012) as energy insecure using the 10 percent threshold.
This issue is emphasized in energy insecurity disparities when looking at it through race across the commonwealth. A recent study found that the efficiency programs successfully reduced energy consumption statewide between 2013 and 2015, but the demographic analysis found that communities with the lowest participation in Mass Save have, on average, proportionally higher percentages of renters, low- and moderate-income people, and households with English as a second language. Whilst having more energy expenditures and less reach in Massachusetts’ nationally recognized programs, energy insecurity is still a possibility for many underrepresented groups.
This has become more relevant due to COVID-19. Unemployment and reduced working hours due to the pandemic are statistically associated with all forms of energy insecurity. According to a study done by the peer reviewed scientific journal Nature Energy, there are short-term and long solutions available to address these issues. Additional assistance programs, extensions of state-level protections, and the establishment of a national moratorium on electricity disconnections would prevent household energy insecurity through the duration of the pandemic. In the long term, potential government interventions might include investments in energy efficiency programs to help households afford energy. All In Energy working with Mass Save’s program is an example of an energy efficiency program that is pushing to address disparities in low-income and minority communities. Through community outreach programs, we are supporting immigrant and low-income families access energy efficiency programs by signing up for no-cost home energy assessment which opens the door to access incentives and benefits to reduce the costs of energy and use their saving for their needs. The World Health Organization (2006) affirms that “energy is essential to meeting our basic needs: cooking, boiling water, lighting, and heating. It is also a prerequisite for the good health-a reality that has been largely ignored by the world community.” Therefore, it is the responsibility of the commonwealth to determine holistic solutions to address energy disparities and further increase research in this field. All In Energy is proud to be part of that equation in bettering the lives of communities in the commonwealth and reducing energy insecurity.
City of Cambridge Partner ‘All In Energy’ Continues Efforts To Help Renters and Owners Save Money and Energy During COVID
All In Energy conducts targeted energy efficiency outreach to underserved populations
Cambridge, August 20, 2020 – The City of Cambridge is continuing their partnership with All In Energy, a local nonprofit, to increase and enhance energy efficiency outreach to renters in the city. The second year of the partnership builds on a successful first year. From July 2019 to March 2020 when the city shut down, All In Energy helped 191 Cambridge renters and 113 homeowners get no-cost home energy assessments. The estimated annual energy savings for renters per apartment ranged from $22 to $635, with an average per apartment of $190. Overall, renters in Cambridge should save $31,265 annually from these assessments.
The partnership is now expanding to engage landlords, as well renters, to help them access energy-saving services for their buildings. All In Energy and its partner Neeeco, a Mass Save® participating Home Performance Contractor, provide no-cost virtual home energy assessments to renters, landlords, and homeowners in small residential buildings in Cambridge. Right now, for a limited-time, landlords and homeowners of 1-4 unit residential buildings can access 100% off the cost of all approved insulation through the Mass Save® program, if they reach out to schedule their no-cost home energy assessment before September 30th.
To schedule your no-cost energy assessment, visit allinenergy.org/cambridge.
The energy assessments are currently being offered virtually, using a phone and video chat or photos sent via email reducing contact during COVID times. Renters can still receive eligible instant energy savings measures such as LED light bulbs, high-efficiency shower heads, programmable thermostats, and advanced power strips. These are mailed at no cost after the assessment. Landlords and building owners can also access additional discounts and incentives, including, where applicable, no-cost targeted air sealing and 100% off approved insulation if they sign up by September 30th. These energy upgrades can make a building more comfortable and reduce maintenance costs. Insulation combined with no-cost air sealing also reduces insect and rodent infiltration, reduces noise levels in the building and could even allow the owner to install smaller HVAC systems in the future.
“Now is the perfect time for landlords and homeowners, to schedule their no-cost virtual home energy assessment,” said Iram Farooq, Assistant City Manager for Community Development. “The 100% incentive on approved insulation work is a never-before-offered opportunity for building owners to make substantial upgrades to their property. We highly encourage our residents to take advantage of this opportunity before September 30th.”
“The program offers benefits to both renters and building owners that save money and energy - and right now with COVID-19, we know every dollar counts, said Rouwenna Altemose, Co-Executive Director of All In Energy. “In the first year, we met many renters who did not realize they could take advantage of a no-cost home energy assessment, even though they, like nearly all utility rate-payers, contribute to the Mass Save® program monthly through an ‘energy efficiency’ charge on their bills. We have been happy to help so many renters access these energy savings and are looking forward to a second year with the city.”
“I was surprised by how much we can save by just changing light bulbs! I also learned about faucet aerators. It was interesting to find out that some parts of the house have better insulation than others. The energy adviser was very helpful and explained to me what repairs we could do to save more energy. Overall excellent!” - Marta, Cambridge Renter.
All In Energy’s outreach model focuses on underserved populations – historically, renters, moderate income households, non-native English speakers, and people of color – to help them save money on their utility bills by connecting them with energy efficiency resources and renewable energy programs. The organization also serves as a talent pipeline for workforce development in the sector, expanding clean energy job opportunities for individuals in underrepresented groups through a paid, hands-on training program. All In Energy has taken on a new approach to outreach to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the first year’s efforts focused on face-to-face interactions, tabling at local events, and community presentations to reach residents, the organization is now collaborating with the city to reach residents through phone calls, social media, mailers, webinars, and other socially distanced strategies, at least until it is safe to return to in person outreach.
The City’s partnership with All In Energy will build on a variety of City programs and resources that help Cambridge households save money and become more energy efficient, including No-Cost Home Energy Assessments, the Multi-Family Energy Program, which provides no-cost energy efficiency assessments and solar assessments to owners of multi-family buildings with 5 or more, and the Cambridge Community Electricity Program, which connects residents to affordable and local renewable electricity. To learn more about the City’s energy efficiency resources, visit cambridgeenergyalliance.org/
All In Energy specializes in driving adoption of clean energy technologies and services in underserved communities. The nonprofit organization recruits, hires, and trains members of communities underrepresented in the clean energy workforce, providing them with the skills and experience necessary for clean energy careers. To learn more about All In Energy’s no-cost home assessments or to get in contact, visit www.allinenergy.org.
At the beginning of this month, All In Energy held their first webinar called "Why Are My Energy Bills Are So High?" Our team has met many residents who are paying energy bills that seem too high, but feel overwhelmed by the amount of information on their energy bills and by the number of solicitations they receive about their energy choices. We find that sometimes residents are missing out on valuable programs that can help them save energy and money because they aren’t sure what will help them and what will hurt them.
Litzy Gastelum Arguelles, Marketing Intern
Litzy is a rising junior at Tufts University double majoring in Film and Media and Environmental Studies. With her studies, she focuses on finding the intersection between both her majors in the field of environmental communications. She hopes to one day work with businesses not only to promote environmental equity but to also search for more ways for businesses to build stronger relationships with their clients in their transition to a clean energy economy.
Litzy immigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was six and was raised in South Los Angeles. She maintains a deep connection with both of her communities by reading Spanish while drinking coffee and eating pan dulce (sweet bread) everyday.
She will be working as our Marketing Intern this Summer of 2020.
Jimmy Hikmatullah, Data Analysis Consultant
Jimmy immigrated from Indonesia to the United States with a dream to foster pride to the people of his country. He hopes that one day he will help Indonesia in supporting action to create equity in wealth, education and more human rights.
Jimmy decided to pursue computer science at Marlborough College because he is confident is his computational skills. In his past, he's built software to help his deaf grandfather, designed a website for Marlboro College to help solve transportation problems, and worked with All In Energy as a Data Analyst fellow in the Fall 2019.
Starting this Summer 2020, he will work with All In Energy as a full-time intern once again and will continue his work from the Fall of 2019. During the summer, he'll focus on All In Energy’s customer relationship management and help the organization expand their impact on larger communities.
He is grateful for opportunities that All In Energy has given him. He has learned how to devote his skills and work to influence the real world. He hopes from what he learns this summer it will build on his experience and work which will eventually manifest into something bigger than himself.
Elidijon Tafa, Communications and Marketing Intern
The internship at All In Energy was very important to me because
it gave me an insight in my future career of focusing my graphic design skills in the clean and sustainable energy industry. My passion and dedication to others inspired me to go beyond my responsibilities and duties. I helped the organization temporarily transition their strategy to promote a new project called community solar when COVID-19 hit. With their support, I was able to land a summer internship as a Marketing Intern at the Solar Energy Company.
Melaku Tachbele, Web Developer Intern
My time as a web developer intern at All In Energy was so important to me because it challenged me push myself to learn more and look for more opportunities to do so. Among the many things that I learned here, I will use the values of team work and communications to help me in my future career. I am going to continue pursuing my career as a software developer.
Emma Boc, CfSI Data Analysis Fellow
Emma is a senior at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She will be graduating in May with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Sustainability. She is a core member of Sunrise Southcoast, a climate activist group that began September 2019 in UMassD; and spent her previous semester registering her fellow students to vote, organizing events, and striking on campus for campus commitment of zero carbon emissions by 2030. Alongside her activist work, she has gained skills researching and analyzing data. Producing several data analysis projects during her time at UMassD. She is very excited to join All In Energy during her final semester.
She will be assisting in the organization of our Sales-force database, as well as producing a data analysis special project on the demographics of residents All In Energy has served. With a passion for inclusive clean energy, she is looking forward to working with a sustainable non-profit and learning from her peers.
As the semester comes to a close, we will be saying goodbye to our current CfSI fellows as they continue their careers in Business Administration and Computer Science.
This internship was the first taste in the management side of my career choice and it allowed me to better understand my strengths and weaknesses. I ran the social media outlets as we pushed out into the Cambridge area. I was able to host and attend multiple events, being a great help to All In Energy. I also learned some helpful skills when it comes to marketing and design, as well as the ability to juggle multiple projects and communicate with different organizations to set up partnerships and raise money.
I am glad that I was able to use my computer science skills for something bigger than himself. I interned at All In Energy as Data Analysis fellow to help the organization build their customer management system specifically using Salesforce. Through the course of the semester, I felt like I belonged, watching All In Energy grow exponentially and use the system I helped build as one of the important pieces. I hope the organization will grow even more so more people can benefit from what All In Energy provides.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
All In Energy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission to advance an inclusive clean energy economy. We bring energy efficiency and renewable energy to underserved communities, while increasing job opportunities for diverse talent in the clean energy industry.