Rice County

Video: Empowering families with energy kits and guidance

Reducing energy burden in manufactured homes

Meet jennyffer & natalia

 

Jennyffer Barrientos and Natalia Marchan work for Growing Up Healthy in Rice County, Minnesota—a program of Northfield Healthy Community Initiative. One of the services they provide is helping people with resources to weatherize their manufactured homes.

Watch the video below to find out how they are using energy efficiency to not only cut energy bills for Latinx, immigrant, and refugee families, but also to cultivate neighborhood leadership and foster social connectedness.

 

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Energy burden is a real thing in manufactured homes. The amount of money people make isn't enough to cover their energy bill as well as food and other choices they have to make.

Jennyffer Barrientos, Growing Up Healthy
 

"Energy burden is a real thing in manufactured homes," Jennyffer shared. "The amount of money people make isn't enough to cover their energy bill as well as food and other choices they have to make."

"Energy Burden" is the percentage of household income spent on home energy bills. The nation’s average energy burden is roughly 3.5%, but some Minnesotans spend 20-30% of their income on energy.

"A lot of the work we do is connecting community members to different resources in the field of education, housing, and in this case energy," added Natalia. "High energy bills in the winter has been one of the biggest barriers for families. We know that some of the mobile homes don't have the proper insulation, and we know that contributes to high energy bills."

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You can't always find someone who is willing to work on a manufactured home, or if you do it's really expensive. So to be able to empower these families—it gives them the resources to do this themselves and help neighbors.

Jennyffer Barrientos, Growing Up Healthy
 

To help with some of that burden, Growing Up Healthy does Home Energy Squad visits where they give families items such as LED light bulbs, and water-saving faucet aerators and showerheads. And now a new partnership with the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) will help provide even more.

"With CERTs, families are also going to get caulk to be able to fill in holes, plastic window sealer, and foam expansion," Jennyffer said. "The reason I think that this is beneficial to a manufactured home owner is because you can't always find someone who is willing to work on a manufactured home, or if you do it's really expensive. So to be able to empower these families, it gives them the resources to be able to do this themselves, and help neighbors."

"In general, manufactured homes are known for using a lot of water, especially during the winter. Part of it is so that their water pipes don't freeze, and Rice County is not the exception for it," Natalia noted. They both added, "We help reduce water usage in manufactured homes by providing heat tape, and we have seen great improvement."

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For us it's really important to see our families thrive. I would say that my hope is for people to not have to choose whether or not they are going to purchase food or pay their rent or their energy bill.

Natalia Marchan , Growing Up Healthy
 

"What I like the most about doing this type of work is that we work with families," shared Natalia. "We are also from these neighborhoods, and for us it's really important to see our families thrive. I would say that my hope is for people to not have to choose whether or not they are going to purchase food or pay their rent or their energy bill."

"I hope that other communities also try to do similar initiatives," Natalia continued. "This seemed to work for us because we were listening to community members, we were working with other agencies such as CERTs, Xcel Energy, and the City of Northfield. I think that a lot of positive things can happen when we work in collaboration and when we hear the people from the community and what their needs are. I think we are all better off when we're all communicating with each other and working together."

Learn about more strategies like this one to reduce the energy burden of Minnesota families, and find out what you can do to help your community.

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