Tempe gives 48 free home energy kits to low-income families amid sky-high summer energy bills

Aug 20, 2023, 3:00 PM

free home energy kits to low-income Tempe families...

Ana Aguilar, RAIL CDC volunteer and Alegre neighborhood resident, right, reviews kit items with Tempe resident, left. (City of Tempe Photo)

(City of Tempe Photo)

PHOENIX — The city of Tempe’s Sustainability and Resilience Office, or SRO, gave out 48 free home energy kits to low-income families last week.

Families got LED bulbs, smart plugs, utility stipends and other items to help lower home energy costs, according to a Thursday announcement.

The office gave out kits to residents of three neighborhoods: Victory Acres, Escalante and Alegre neighborhoods in Tempe. Officials picked these areas due to a few key metrics:

– Low household income
– High heat vulnerability
– Median land surface temperatures
– Poverty rate

According to the announcement, residents in low-income neighborhoods have to choose between paying for electricity and other necessities. That’s because the high costs of home cooling can bust their home budgets.

“As Arizonans experience hotter temperatures for longer periods of time and face rising electric bills, we knew, and heard from community members, that the city needed to help,” Tempe’s Sustainability and Resilience Director Eric Iwersen said in a statement.

Why did Tempe hand out these free home energy kits?

Before handing out the home energy kits, the SRO teamed up with the Retail, Arts, Innovation and Livability CDC (or RAIL CDC for short). The two groups launched engagement programs to get community feedback. Officials wanted to make sure their free home energy kits would help locals lower their power bills.

“It is important to address indoor extreme heat because in 2022 about 20% of heat-related deaths occurred indoors,” Iwersen said. “This project is just the start of our office’s energy equity work, which feeds into the larger resilience to extreme heat approach we are taking.”

This is just one of the city’s many relief programs. The SRO and RAIL CDC will host future engagement events in the fall. They will create a Climate Justice Advisory Group to address energy equity and heat relief, the announcement said.

Tempe residents who share their feedback could help shape the city’s future programs, polices and infrastructure.

“We want to identify opportunities for city investment that address energy cost savings, lower greenhouse gas emissions and increase urban cooling,” Iwersen said.

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Tempe gives 48 free home energy kits to low-income families amid sky-high summer energy bills