Central Coast Savings for Farmworker Housing

by 3C-REN

The Tri-County Regional Energy Network’s (3C-REN) Home Energy Savings program offers free and discounted energy efficiency upgrades like smart thermostats and heat pump water heaters to eligible homeowners and renters throughout San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. Launched in early 2020, the program is focused on serving hard-to-reach households, such as those that are geographically isolated from urban areas, where English is not the primary language spoken at home, and where residents qualify for low-income programs like CARE and FERA. The goal of the program is to bring the benefits of energy efficiency, from lower energy costs to improved indoor air quality, to the residents of the tri-county region. 

In line with these goals, 3C-REN was pleased to partake in a large-scale energy-efficiency and renewable energy project at three farmworker housing complexes on the Central Coast. Partnership was key to the success of this project, with the housing developer effectively layering several available programs to achieve the greatest benefits for the tenants and the environment, while making the project financially feasible. The core partners for the project include: People’s Self Help Housing (PSHH), Association for Energy Affordability (AEA), and Tri-County Regional Energy Network (3C-REN)

PSHH is the longest-serving nonprofit housing organization on California’s Central Coast, supporting low-income families, farmworkers, seniors and veterans. AEA is a non-profit dedicated to achieving energy efficiency in new and existing buildings in order to foster and maintain affordable and healthy housing and communities, especially those of low-income. Adding 3C-REN into the mix, the trio of partners was able to take a holistic approach to saving energy and reducing carbon emissions at these housing sites. 

AEA delivered free energy efficiency measures like insulation and duct sealing through the Energy Savings Assistance (ESA) program, and is in the process of adding solar through the Low Income Weatherization Program (LIWP). 3C-REN’s Home Energy Savings program implementer, Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO), replaced 197 traditional gas-powered water heaters with electric-powered heat pump water heaters, reducing the cost substantially with incentives. Additionally, 3C-REN provided smart thermostats, low-flow showerheads, and attic insulation. The energy efficiency measures combined with solar PV will result in clean energy for tenants and an offset of all, or the majority of, tenant electricity costs. 

The project features many benefits including: lower energy costs for tenants, improved home comfort, lower carbon emissions, and workforce development training for the staff involved in installing and maintaining the equipment. It is the combined outcomes of the various measures that make all these benefits possible. It is the hope of the partners that this model of program layering will be replicated across the state so that all residents may enjoy the benefits of energy efficiency and clean energy.