Last week, the Mayor joined Claire Oleksiak, Executive Director of Sustain Dane; Alder Yannette Figueroa Cole; Elevate Energy; and members of the first cohort of Efficiency Navigator participants for a press event to celebrate the achievements of the Efficiency Navigator program and announce that applications are now open for 2023.

The Efficiency Navigator is a city-sponsored initiative that provides free energy efficiency and other upgrades to small- and medium-sized multifamily housing. Participation is open to unsubsidized multifamily housing with rents that are affordable to households at or below 80% Area Median Income. Selected buildings receive free technical assistance and building upgrades such as efficient lighting; improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; better insulation and air sealing; water softener optimization, tune-ups or replacement; water conserving fixtures; and recommendations to improve home health.

The Mayor’s remarks follow:

I am happy to be here today to celebrate the accomplishments of the Efficiency Navigator program and help launch the next round of investments in our community. Thank you to Dan Boardman for hosting us and to all the partners here today for being energy leaders in our community.

Mayor Rhodes-Conway with Claire Oleksiak of Sustain Dane, Alder Yannette Figueroa Cole, Elevate Energy staff, and Efficiency Navigator participantsThe City of Madison is working hard to increase the quality and quantity of affordable housing while also taking action on climate. Investing in energy efficiency upgrades in affordable housing is a triple win – it saves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and lowers utility bills for residents.
Everyone can benefit from lower utility bills, but it’s especially important for households with lower incomes. The city recently started MadCAP, which helps low income households afford their water and municipal utility bills – learn more here. But, we don’t control energy utilities.

We know that low-income households in the U.S. spend as much as three times more on home energy costs than other households, including electricity, natural gas, and fuels for home heating. This is called the energy burden. And it means these households have less flexibility to pay for other basic needs and less financial stability.

But building upgrades that save energy and money can be challenging for rental housing – the process of identifying needs, finding the money to pay for them, and coordinating contractors is time consuming and often unfamiliar to building owners and renters.

The Efficiency Navigator program is designed to overcome these barriers by making energy upgrades easy and free. It not only provides critical technical assistance but also pays for the work, from adding insulation and weather sealing to replacing old equipment with new, better models.

Through this partnership, the City, Sustain Dane, and Elevate Energy have worked together with building owners to improve the homes of 88 families in our community. For free!

Making 88 homes more affordable, comfortable, and climate resilient is a big deal. We are proud of our investments and progress and are grateful for our partners in this work. Still, there’s a lot to do. And that is why we’re here today – to announce that applications are open for 2023.

If you’re a renter in Madison, you can recommend your building to the program. And if you’re a building owner, you can apply directly.

Sustain Dane and Elevate will walk you through the application process, provide free efficiency assessments, and give step-by-step assistance to get the work done. Then, based on what the home needs, they can pay for the work for you!

And there’s more good news. The federal government is also making unprecedented investments in energy efficiency upgrades for single and multifamily homes.

The Inflation Reduction Act provides tax incentives and rebates directly to households to help cover the cost of energy efficiency upgrades, electric heat pumps, other efficient appliances, and more. With more federal money to help, we can help accomplish even more. This means every household in Madison, not just those participating in the Efficiency Navigator, can receive financial support for their energy efficiency projects. You can find out more about these programs and how you can benefit here.

I thank President Biden and his Administration, along with Senator Baldwin, Congressman Pocan and all who supported this in Congress, for delivering these critical resources. Without question, these federal investments will help the Efficiency Navigator Program provide energy saving upgrades to more affordable housing units, helping our local dollars go even further.

There’s never been a better time to start your energy efficiency journey! Reach out to Sustain Dane today to learn more about how you can participate in the Efficiency Navigator and join the cohort of sustainable housing leaders in Madison.


For more information on the Inflation Reduction Act, our partners at the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change have also created a guide with pathways for individuals and businesses to explore.

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