Helping charities save energy in North America

Micah Hirschfield, Director of External Relations at Direct Energy on helping charities become more energy efficient through the 'Reduce Your Use For Good' scheme.

I believe that charitable and nonprofit organisations are playing an increasingly important role in society, particularly during these difficult times where they are a vital lifeline to those most in need. Here at Direct Energy, we’re committed to making a difference, which is why we are empowering nonprofits to help more people.

Our Reduce Your Use For Good programme does just that. It provides grants to charitable organisations so that they can buy energy efficient products and services that enable them to reduce their energy use and costs. Money saved can therefore be redirected to further their missions and make a positive impact on people’s lives.  

And I’m proud to say that having recently provided 45 organisations in our local communities with grants that total $225,000, I wanted to tell you some more about this exciting programme.

How does it work?  

Essentially, the programme uses social media to drive social good. We encourage nonprofits to “Like” our facebook page when they submit their application online, which lets us know the good they do in their community and how they could benefit from an energy efficiency grant. A Committee of Direct Energy employees then review and choose which nonprofits receive an award, based on a number of factors that include their effectiveness in supporting the vulnerable and the difference the award will make to the service they provide.   

Making a big difference

At a time when many nonprofits are struggling with reduced funds, they simply don't have the money necessary to make occasional big purchases they need such as air conditioning and heating units or new windows to keep the cold out – so this programme is making a big difference.                                                                     

For example, let me tell you about Alice Volunteer Services who received a grant both this year and last. Alice’s Food Bank provides essential access to food for a growing number of vulnerable Texans, such as those who have lost their jobs or the elderly struggling on low or fixed incomes.  But poor insulation alongside an ageing air conditioning and heating unit, meant that their highest monthly expense behind food itself, was the cost of energy. Our grants have therefore made it possible for them to buy additional insulation and a more energy efficient air conditioning and heating unit which has saved them nearly $1,000 on their electricity bill this year, giving them more money to purchase food so desperately needed in the communities they serve. 

Below are what some of this years’ winners will be spending their $5,000 grant on:

  • Neighborhood Centers, Inc. is a community-based nonprofit in Texas who brings resources and education to underserved neighborhoods. They plan to install energy efficient LED lighting at two of their high-usage facilities.
  • The Women’s Home also in Texas, help women who experience homelessness because of mental illness, abuse or addiction.  The grant will be used to install solar screens on the windows and solar fans to remove attic heat in dormitory and transitional homes.
  • LifeWorks Erie in Pennsylvania caters to the local elderly community by providing opportunities for intellectual and physical stimulation.  With the money they receive through the grant, they will replace windows, a door frame and purchase an energy-efficient refrigerator to store influenza and pneumonia vaccines.

In total, I’m pleased to say that we have now contributed $502,500 to the Reduce Your Use For Good programme since it started in 2012.

If you would like to find out more about how we are making a positive contribution to our local communities, please visit our Responsibility webpage.