Energy Savers Network supports volunteer-based solutions to the energy efficiency problems that disproportionately impact low-income and minority communities.
Energy Savers Network envisions a sustainable future where our most vulnerable communities are not saddled by the worst impacts of a dirty fossil fuel industry. We believe in community-lead programs that improve the health, safety, and energy efficiency of low-income and minority households. We believe in mobilizing volunteers, donors, and community partners to create real change in people’s lives. We believe in helping the climate by helping people.
Energy Savers Network began at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Hayesville, North Carolina, with a small network of volunteers. Instead of simply donating money to help lessen the energy burden of low-income households, Brad Rouse and his fellow parishioners dubbed themselves the Green Team and went to work. The Green Team connected with limited income communities in order to hand out LED bulbs, install weather stripping on doors, fix gaps and holes, and provide families with whatever they needed to lower their energy burden. The Green Team won the national Interfaith Power & Light “Cool Congregations” Award for this work in 2015.
After moving from Hayesville to Asheville, Brad met Alice Wyndham through Asheville Citizens’ Climate Lobby. They shared a desire to help people and help preserve the environment, and they quickly began organizing and training teams of volunteers in Asheville. Brad and Alice partnered with Community Action Opportunities(CAO) to support their weatherization services, and this partnership further grew their impact across Western North Carolina. As a small corps of volunteers developed, they began to expand their network of homes outside of CAO, completing their first “solo” home in December 2016. Recognizing the importance of programs that foster climate justice and community-engagement, MountainTrue became an initial “fiscal sponsor”, leading to the birth of Energy Savers Network in 2016.
The year 2017 has been a period of tremendous growth and evolution of ESN. Our community partners have been fantastic. Referrals from agencies such as Mountain Housing Opportunities, Asheville – Buncombe Community Christian Ministries, Eblen Charities and others have begun to supply us with a steady stream of homes that need our support. Mountain True was a wonderful initial sponsor, and we are now grateful to be working with Green Built Alliance as our fiscal sponsor (since August) and as our partner on a number of projects. We have benefitted from a large (for us) grant from Buncombe County and other contributions from New Belgium Brewing, All Souls Cathedral Episcopal Church, First Baptist of Asheville, Rotary Club of Asheville, Swannanoa Valley Friends Meeting, and a number of individuals.
And of course, we’ve benefitted greatly from the growing cadre of volunteers, starting with Brad and Alice and including many others as time has gone along. Over 80 separate individuals worked on the over 70 homes we have completed as of December 2017, committing over 1400 hours of work. Countless additional hours have been spent by our board members and administrative staff as well.
As we look to 2018 we are excited about making a real difference by improving the lives of the clients we serve by lowering energy bills and improving the lives of all of us by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from inefficient energy use.