The American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy (ACEEE) has issued some recommendations to help the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) improve energy efficiency programmes for consumers in Maryland.
The report examines the performance of the Low Income Energy Efficiency Programme (LIEEP) and the Multifamily Energy Efficiency and Housing Affordability Programme (MEEHA).
The LIEEP and the MEEHA have since 2011 been handed over to the DHCD by the Maryland Public Service Commission to help consumers reduce energy usage and costs, a development that would help the state stabilise grid network and reduce carbon emissions.
The two programmes have been introduced following the enactment of the EmPower Maryland Energy Efficiency Act in 2008.
According to the findings of ACEEE, the two programmes have over the past years managed to increase consumer energy efficiency.
The LIEEP helps single-family households to improve their energy efficiency whilst the MEEHA targets apartment buildings.
Despite increasing average energy efficiency savings per each participant, contractors have encountered limited financial resources to address poor ventilation, mold and water leaks in consumer homes before installing energy efficiency measures.
The programme has in recent years set aside $1,000 for contractors to address such issues before they can go ahead with energy efficiency installations.
At the same time, the MEEHA has seen a decrease in the number of participants and savings over the past programme cycle.
However, ACEEE says there is room for improvement if the DHCD in implementing LEEP:
- Expand efforts to serve households with home health and safety deferrals
- Increase coordination with community organisations
- Strengthen engagement with rental property owners
To optimise MEEHA, ACEEE suggests that there is need to:
- Extend incentives to master-metered buildings
- Help applicants design and plan financially feasible projects
- Provide new training for contractors
- Provide no-cost, data driven energy benchmarking support to applicants whether a comprehensive retrofit is needed to improve building efficiency.
- Search for savings across an applicant’s portfolio of buildings to identify multiple properties that can provide cost-effective savings
- Suggest bridge financing opportunities to help with funding upgrades before incentives are made available.
In addition, ACEEE recommends the Maryland Public Service Commission to integrate natural gas incentives with the energy efficiency initiatives. Moreover, the DHCD must track new programme performance metrics which can be employed to improve performance, set efficiency goals and targets as well as expand the programme’s eligibility criteria.
Image credit: 123rf