Low-income families in our communities struggle to make ends meet and struggle to pay their utility bills month after month. It was true before the pandemic, and it is all the more true during. But, everyone is billed the same for the energy they use, meaning that low-income households are assuming a larger cost burden proportionate to their incomes. According to a 2020 study conducted by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the energy cost burden for a low-income family is 3x higher than the national average, with some households in our region paying up to 10% of their annual income just to keep the lights on.

It is for this reason that JCED decided to develop a new featured program in 2021 — the PAY-IT-FORWARD Program! This program will purchase energy efficiency materials using charitable donations from community members and grant funds, then distribute them to low-income residents in Johnson County in “energy care packages.”

One $65 donation purchases an energy care package with 10 LED light bulbs and one high-quality, low-flow showerhead. Installing the package items will reduce energy costs up to $200 annually for each participating household, depending on prior fixtures.

JCED also offers a PAY-IT-FORWARD+ option so that a donor can purchase two energy care packages, one for a low-income resident and one for the donor themself. The donation to participate in PAY-IT-FORWARD+ is $130.

100 donations to the PAY-IT-FORWARD program could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to equal 9 Johnson County homes’ electricity powered for an entire year, every year.

We took great care in selecting the materials that would be provided in energy care packages, in particular with the showerhead. We wanted to make sure that recipients could experience both comfort and energy savings.

This program was developed out of a desire to serve our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The materials provided in the energy care package are high-quality and easy to install, making non-contact delivery of the materials to the front door manageable. We intend to continue non-contact delivery of energy care packages to individuals until it is safe to begin installing for participants.

If you are interested in participating in PAY-IT-FORWARD, either as a donor or energy care package recipient, visit our services page to learn more. Or, contact us at info@johnsoncleanenergydistrict.org.