Wellington County launches Energy Coach pilot program

Program designed to help low-income residents reduce energy costs and usage

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The County of Wellington has launched a pilot program offering one-on-one service to help low-income residents reduce their home energy use and costs, and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Available to both county and City of Guelph residents, the “Energy Coach” service will:

  • pre-screen residents to ensure they qualify for energy efficiency programs;
  • provide general information about how home energy systems work;
  • guide residents to technical resources and existing programs; and
  • provide answers to questions about energy

“Low-income residents who rent or own a property will be able to contact the Energy Coach via email or phone to receive tailored assistance and step-by-step guidance on how to benefit from the available energy-saving upgrades, including new doors, windows, heating systems, smart thermostats, and more,” said county councillor James Seeley, chair of the county’s planning committee.

“The Energy Coach will assess the residents’ current energy usage and pre-screen them and direct them to the best and most-suitable programs.”

The role of “Energy Coach,” will be filled by existing county staff, explains county climate change and sustainability manager Karen Chisholme in a report to the county’s planning committee.

Staff serving as energy coaches will operate out of county libraries and the Fergus Ontario Works office to allow for easy access and will be available by phone, email and in-person.

“Social services clients will be referred to the Energy Coach by social services staff. Low-income residents can also connect with the Energy Coach directly,” Chisholme notes in her report.

A Feb 7 press release announcing the program states that, through partnership with Enbridge, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and CLEAResult, the pilot will largely promote three programs:

  • Save on Energy’s Energy Affordability program;
  • Enbridge’s Home Winterproofing program;
  • the County of Wellington’s Ontario Renovates program.

Where appropriate, residents will also be referred to the Canada Greener Homes Initiative, the release states.

“As the consolidated municipal service manager responsible for social services in Wellington County and Guelph, our employees have a direct connection with residents who are eligible for these programs,” said Stuart Beumer, the county’s Ontario Works director.

“We are pleased to collaborate with our climate change Division, IESO, Enbridge and CLEAResult, to increase awareness of assistance available.”

“This is a pilot project to help people with their energy costs,” Seeley told county councillors at the Jan. 25 meeting.

He added program staff will work with community partners in areas such as social housing and food banks.

“And those individuals will direct the proper people to the Energy Coach,” he explained.

Seeley said landlords can also utilize the program to “learn methods to reduce their energy usage and lower costs and then hopefully put more money in their pocket.”

The pilot program will run until the end of May and may be extended based on feedback, the press release states.