Improving energy efficiency not only helps prevent global warming pollution. It can lower utility bills, and provide much-needed savings for low income people.

Elevate Energy is a Chicago-based nonprofit that helps make affordable housing developments more energy efficient. The organization conducts free energy audits, helps with retrofits such as replacing light fixtures or updating heating systems, and connects building owners with funding for the improvements.

For example, the group helped LUCHA, Chicago’s Latin United Community Housing Association, conduct energy audits and lighting retrofits.

Juan Carlos Linares, Executive Director of LUCHA, says that improving energy efficiency can help make housing affordable for low-income tenants, who sometimes spend as much as twenty percent of their incomes on energy.

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Linares: “This is money they can use to pay for their healthcare costs. They can pay for educational costs – lots of our tenants want to get back to college, they tell us this – or for anything else in terms of transportation, getting to work, or cost of living issues. So we’re seeing a holistic change, not just at LUCHA, but with our communities generally speaking.”

Over the last decade, Elevate Energy has retrofitted more than twenty thousand units of affordable multifamily housing around the city.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.

Eileen Mignoni

Eileen Mignoni is a South Florida-based visual journalist who has been working on stories about science, the environment, and energy for nearly 10 years. In addition to her work at Yale Climate Connections,...