Solar for Low to Middle Income Households

Rooftop solar is steadily growing in popularity throughout the country, but especially in Massachusetts. Due in part to decreasing costs, solar panels provide benefits to homeowners and renters alike. For homeowners, installing solar PV helps them save on their electricity bills and reduce their carbon emissions. Renters can buy into community solar programs that can help renters and those who are unable to get solar on their own homes.

Low to middle income (LMI) households are those that earn 80% or less of the area’s median income. LMI households represent 43% of the U.S. population and 70% of the potential solar customers in Massachusetts. However, there are still some barriers in place against LMI families in accessing solar. These barriers include high upfront cost, low credit scores, and/or renting, and solar programs and financing for these populations needs to be wider spread.

Currently, most of the solar customers in the United States are in the same demographic. The typical residential solar customer is middle to upper class, middle-aged, and usually male. A recent study found that the median income of households that install solar panels in some states was roughly $32,000 higher than the median household income in those states. Solar panels are attractive to this demographic because they also tend to be more environmentally minded, and may have the disposable income to pay upfront costs for solar panels or to buy into community solar programs.

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What’s the Deal with Strategic Electrification?

As action on climate change grows in urgency, some states have already begun promoting energy efficiency and carbon-free electricity as methods to address these environmental problems. Massachusetts, for examples, offers Mass Save, an energy efficiency initiative focused on empowering residents, businesses, and communities to gain access to energy efficient upgrades. While these upgrades are important, according to the National Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP),  strategic electrification needs to be incorporated to fully meet carbon reduction goals.

Photo credit: Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships

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DIY Planter Using Reclaimed Italian Tiles

Tiles are often thrown away in remodeling projects, but they can actually be reused in a variety of different ways. Not only can they be used again in other projects, but they can also be transformed into other things. We found this great DIY craft that uses tiles. This DIY planter uses beautiful Italian-made tiles from EcoBuilding Bargains that would have otherwise gone to the landfill. This is a really great project if you have leftover tiles, or find tiles with really great designs at EcoBuilding Bargains. You can put this planter in your home, office, or even gift it to someone special.

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DIY Water Marbled Tile Coasters

Tiles aren’t just for backsplashes or flooring, they can be used for a fun DIY upcycle project! Using this website as inspiration, we made water marbled tile coasters using nail polish. You can use any colors of nail polish you want, but we chose neutral colors. Water marbling can also be used on other surfaces, but using salvaged tile coasters from EcoBuilding Bargains meant an affordable and fun craft. It took us several tries to get it, but the results are great!

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Kitchen Remodel Using Salvaged Cabinets

Using salvaged cabinets to remodel your kitchen can sound like an impossible task, but is actually really doable. One solution is to visit EcoBuilding Bargains, where there are always a variety of high-quality cabinets that need homes, but it can make you wonder how to integrate them into the spaces in your home. The Gaylords, who live in Easthampton, have integrated a beautiful salvaged cabinet set with the help of their contractor.

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