In my opinion, the most interesting and important part of SWIFT is the "Energy Detective." The Energy Detective is a low cost piece of technology connected to a weather monitoring source which advises the homeowner when to turn the heat or air conditioning on or off. This is very important because not only is it a technological advancement that saves the homeowner money, but it also, "helps educate the homeowner about wise energy consumption choices, while giv[ing] the researchers data about actual consumption." This fits into the aim of the program to help low income households through innovations that, "are both technical and administrative."
To understand the macro benefits of the SWIFT program we must first look closer at the problem. According to the Chicago Tribune there, "are indicators of a growing problem" where in the winter months more and more people are unable to pay their utility bills. "Studies show that when residents are unable to pay for gas or electricity, they are one step closer to becoming homeless." However, the problem with people being unable to pay their electricity bills is not just contained to the winter months.
All over the world this past summer we saw record heat waves which led to increases in the use of electricity to power fans and air conditioning units. When the time came to pay those electricity bills at the end of the month, low income households especially could not pay and had the electricity cut to their homes at the time when they needed it most. For example, in Australia it got to a point where,"150 customers every working day - had their electricity disconnected because of unpaid power debts." The SWIFT program could make improvements not only in the country, but across the world.
While the SWIFT program is starting on a small scale, 800 homes in and around the Charlotte area, the results could have far reaching effects. The program is creating a "smart home" by first educating the homeowner and then providing low cost technology to allow the homeowner to put what they have learned into practice. This is what makes SWIFT different from other federally funded programs (funded by the U.S. Department of energy), the people involved realize that without the administrative portion of their project the technological part would be useless.
SWIFT is receiving major help from companies, which allows their program to be financially feasible. Lowe's is giving them great deals on supplies, Habitat for Humanity is supplying them with volunteer work hours, and "North Carolina Housing Finance Agency is providing forgivable loans to the homeowners." My only fear is that this level of support cannot be found across the country which would make the SWIFT program economically impossible. Hopefully, the country will see the benefits of this program and reach out to the low income households and make this world a better place.