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GOOD Ideas for Cities: Encouraging Energy-Saving Retrofits

Most homeowners know their houses aren't performing to the best of their ability. How can a city motivate its residents to perform energy upgrades?


Most homeowners know their houses aren't performing to the best of their ability. Poor insulation, faulty windows, and power-sucking appliances can all contribute to high energy consumption, especially in a place like Cincinnati where homes must endure both cold winters and hot summers. But how can a city motivate its residents to perform energy upgrades on their homes?

As part of GOOD Ideas for Cities Cincinnati, a team from Hyperquake tackled this issue of getting homeowners to care about energy usage. In their research, the team realized that even though homeowners acknowledged that a few simple improvements would probably save energy and money as well, the perceived hassle around performing an energy audit created a barrier to action.

A campaign was crafted not around the environmental issues, but around the idea of "home fitness," encouraging homeowners to look at the overall health of their home. Peppered with plenty of fitness imagery and language that is more about healthy living than wonky technical terms (contractors become "personal trainers," for example), the campaign aims to get residents thinking about saving energy in a radically different and attention-getting way.

Challenge: Homeowners in the Greater Cincinnati area are spending far more than they should on electricity and gas because their homes lack proper insulation, storm windows and efficient heating and cooling systems. With the goals of saving money, reducing emissions and putting local residents to work, how do we get more Cincinnati households to perform energy efficiency upgrades on their home?

Green Umbrella, Brewster Rhoads; Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, Lilah Glick; and City of Cincinnati, Office of Environmental Quality, Steve Johns

Hyperquake: Kate Kovalcin, LeAnne Wagner, A.J. Mercer, Dan Barczak, Matt Cole, Molly Danks, Chris Wallen

CGEA Home Fitness Program: Contact goodideas[at]hyperquake[dot]com

Video by The Queen City Project

Additional support provided by the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation

GOOD Ideas for Cities pairs creative problem-solvers with real urban challenges proposed by civic leaders. To learn more visit Watch more videos of recent GOOD Ideas for Cities events, and if you'd like to talk about bringing the program to your city or school, email alissa[at]goodinc[dot]com or follow us at @IdeasforCities

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