Bringing Energy Savings to Underserved SLC Neighborhoods

Bringing Energy Savings to Underserved SLC Neighborhoods
05 April 2018

Utah Clean Energy is excited to announce the launch of a new initiative to help underserved and low-income communities transition to a low carbon future. Through our new energy equity initiative, which includes the Salt Lake City “Neighborhood Light Swap” pilot program, we are bringing energy savings directly to community members, empowering them to reduce pollution and improve local air quality and public health, all while saving money on their monthly utility bills.

Salt Lake City Neighborhood “Light Swap”

In order to increase participation in energy efficiency programs, Utah Clean Energy is working with local partners, including city councils, libraries, schools, Salt Lake City, and Rocky Mountain Power to help community members access energy-saving programs.

In addition to coordinating and seeking input from community leaders, advocates, non-governmental organizations, local government and utility companies, Utah Clean Energy is also hosting a series of Neighborhood “Light Swaps”. These “Light Swap” events will allow households located in the 84104 and 84116 zip codes to “swap” 5 conventional light bulbs for 5 energy-saving LEDs for FREE and learn about other free and low-cost ways to save energy and money. 

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Thank you to Rocky Mountain Power’s wattSmart program for donating over 1,000 energy-saving LED light bulbs for this project! We are also thankful for Salt Lake County Health Department for helping us responsibly dispose of our CFL bulbs. You can learn more about hazardous waste disposal on their website.

Come to a “Light Swap” listed below to get started!

“Light Swap” Event Dates, Times & Locations

  • Back to School Night: Friday, August 24th, 4 - 7 PM 
    Mountainview Elementary School, 1380 Navajo St, Salt Lake City, UT 84104

Why Energy Equity?

Historically, residents in 84104 and 84116 have had some of the lowest rates of participation in energy efficiency programs in Salt Lake City. And while underserved residents stand to benefit most from energy savings, they are least likely to utilize these resources due to prohibitive up-front costs, limited program promotion, and linguistic barriers.

Underserved and low-income communities are disproportionately burdened by energy costs, making energy and cost savings especially impactful for these communities. On average, low-income households pay 3 times more on energy bills than the average-income households as a percentage of their household income.[1] In addition to the financial stress that a high energy burden poses, it can also lead to a host of public health concerns, as many families respond by foregoing essentials like groceries and reducing necessary energy usage, which can cause discomfort, inadequate lighting, and unsafe housing conditions.[2]

In addition to improving household comfort and reducing monthly utility costs, energy efficiency leads to numerous “co-benefits” that improve public health and local air quality. Here are a few examples of how reducing energy waste can help improve community health and improve the environment:

  • Decreasing energy waste reduces the need to use fossil fuels like coal to generate electricity, which is a huge win for public health and the environment. Pollutants from fossil fuel combustion lead to “four of the leading causes of death in the United States: cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, heart disease, and stroke.”[3]
  • Reducing the amount of fossil fuel emissions also helps to fight climate change. This can help combat public health problems amplified by climate change, including exposure to extreme heat in poorly insulated, inefficient housing.
  • Salt Lake City is ranked seventh in the nation for worst 24-hour air pollution spikes.[4] Over one-third (39%) of local wintertime pollution that contributes to red air quality days comes from “area source” emissions, which includes natural gas usage in homes and buildings.[5]
  • By making a home more energy efficient—especially by improving insulation and fixing air leaks—the occupant needs to use less natural gas to heat the home, which reduces emissions and helps improve local air quality. Improving the air quality can help reduce symptoms of respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD.
  • Energy efficiency also helps indoor air quality. By making your home more airtight and insulated, less cold air, pests, allergens, and moisture can enter the home, thus improving indoor air quality and reducing symptoms of respiratory conditions.[6]

In addition to improving public health, energy efficiency can help families save money. Just by participating in the Light Swap program and swapping 5 old incandescent or CFL bulbs for 5 energy-saving LEDs, we estimate that participants can save up to $80 per year![7] And although getting started can be daunting, there are tons of easy, low- or no-cost things that residents can do today to start saving money and energy.

Additional Energy Efficiency Resources

  • Energy Efficiency Next Steps Guide – Describes low- and no-cost energy efficiency changes that households can make to save energy and money.
  • Energy Experts – Provides air sealing, duct sealing, and attic insulation for FREE to residents of 84104 and 84116.
  • HEAT Assistance – Provides financial assistance with utility bills from November to April to eligible families (at 150% of the poverty level).
  • Rocky Mountain Power wattSmart Home Energy Kit – Provides Rocky Mountain Power customers with 4 additional LEDs FREE of charge. All you need to get started is your account number.
  • Energy rebates – Provides financial incentives for energy efficient appliances or making energy-saving changes in your home. Dominion Energy and Rocky Mountain Power both offer incentives, so make sure to check out both!
  • Weatherization Assistance Program – Performs energy efficiency improvements that include replacing inefficient lighting, repairing windows, doors, and furnaces, adding insulation in walls, floors, and attics, and insulating air ducts for eligible households (200% of the poverty level).




[1] A. Drehobl and L. Ross, “Lifting the High Energy Burden in America’s Largest Cities: How Energy Efficiency Can Improve Low Income and Underserved Communities,” (Washington, DC: ACEEE and Energy Efficiency for All, 2016). http://aceee.org/research-report/u1602.

[2] D. Hernández and S. Bird, “Energy Burden and the Need for Integrated Low-Income Housing and Energy Policy,” (Poverty & Public Policy 2: 5–25, 2010).

[3] American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy and Physicians for Social Responsibility factsheet. http://aceee.org/sites/default/files/ee-health-1008.pdf.

[4] http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/sota/city-rankings/most-polluted-cities.html

[5] Sources of Emissions, UCAIR website: https://www.ucair.org/sources-of-emissions/

[6] J. Wilson et. al., “Home Rx: The Health Benefits of Home Performance,” (Washington, DC: US Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, December 2016). https://www.energystar.gov/sites/default/files/asset/document/Home%20Rx%20The%20Health%20Benefits%20of%20Home%20Performance%20-%20A%20Review%20of%20the%20Current%20Evidence_FINAL.pdf

[7] Replacing five traditional 60 watt bulbs with 9 watt LEDs will save $79 per year (assuming the bulb being replaced is a 60 watt bulb being used 8 hours/day, at an average cost of $0.11/kWh) http://www.seagulllighting.com/ENERGY-STAR-Savings.htm. Lifespan of LED bulbs is 50,000 hours, or roughly 17 years if averaging 8 hours/day. https://www.bulbs.com/learning/ledfaq.aspx.