Since August 2008, HEET has been organizing free energy-upgrade work-parties to teach volunteers hands-on skills in energy efficiency. These work-parties take place in the buildings of non-profits such as food pantries, churches, and community centers. The upgrades save organizations money on their energy bills, allowing them to provide more urgently needed community services.
Before each event, HEET’s skilled auditors thoroughly evaluate the building, assessing the thermal envelope, HVAC, lighting, major electrical appliances, and overall energy bills. They conduct a blower door test, perform combustion analysis, and use a “Kill-a-Watt” meter to decide where and how to do the work most effectively.
During the work-party, HEET’s team leaders teach volunteers how to air-seal air infiltration points, as well as how to install electricity- and water-efficiency measures. HEET keeps the average ratio of team leaders to volunteers at one to four to make sure the team leader can give high-quality instruction as well as oversee the work.
After the work is done, team leaders and volunteers celebrate over food and refreshments. Labor is provided for free by HEET volunteers and team leaders. The non-profit pays for materials and food. Volunteers gain hands-on skills that they can use in their own homes, creating a powerful multiplier effect.
HEET teaches volunteers by helping them perform the necessary skills with tools and materials available at any hardware store. Working together, volunteers see their neighbors combining efforts toward energy efficiency and reaching a collective goal. This is social marketing at its most powerful.
HEET is one of the only local organizations teaching residents how to pluck some of the lowest hanging fruit in energy and water efficiency. We work in actual buildings rather than labs, and we complete the project for free. HEET works with volunteers who are economically, socially, and racially diverse, from energy efficiency wonks to people who don’t know what CFL stands for.