September 25, 2023
By Josh Dodson, director, RestoreOKC
Climate change is about more than rising temperatures and severe weather. It’s about the billions of people who will be impacted by a warmer planet. And I’m not just talking about people who live on the coast.
Oklahoma may not be directly affected by hurricanes and rising sea levels, but we most definitely are affected by prolonged drought, increased flooding, dangerous storms and deadly heat waves. Especially for lower-income residents, hotter summers can lead to crippling energy bills and force families to make tough choices about keeping their homes safe and comfortable.
That’s why Restore OKC has teamed up with the University of Oklahoma and Pecan Street Inc. to help launch an energy efficiency and awareness program in northeast Oklahoma City. We’re already recruiting participants, conducting energy audits and installing equipment that will measure how these improvements affect participants’ energy use and costs.
Austin-based Pecan Street has been doing this kind of work for more than a decade. By installing equipment in residents’ electric panels, the organization can measure energy use every second for multiple circuits in the home. Comparing this data before and after home improvements, like installing better insulation, replacing an old window AC, or sealing windows and doors, can tell customers and researchers exactly how much energy and money they saved.
The OKC project is part of Pecan Street’s expansion into four new markets – Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Atlanta, and Portland, Ore., – each focused specifically on under-resourced communities that have traditionally been left out of cutting-edge energy research and home upgrades that save energy and money.
Participation in the research program is free. Each participant will get access to an online portal that shows second-by-second energy use and can be used to “make energy costs real.” You can literally see the graph jump when you turn on lights or crank up the AC.
Restore OKC is also seeking additional funding sources that could hopefully help to provide upgrades to participants, including insulation, radiant deck roofing, and more.
How To Participate
Participation is free and completely voluntary.
A licensed electrician will install equipment at your circuit panel and connect it to your home internet so the data can be transferred to Pecan Street and you can see it online. This will not affect your WiFi performance, speed or cost. We’re working with a local electrical company called EightTwenty for all of the installations.
Because this equipment is in your home and measures your energy use, Pecan Street takes great care to protect your privacy. All of their policies and procedures are outlined in the Participant Agreement that all participants must sign.
For more information about the program and the kind of research Pecan Street is conducting across the country, visit their Participation Resources page or check out our suggested links below. And if you’re interested in participating, the first step is reviewing and completing the Participant Agreement. More questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.