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Energy Lending Library

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Energy Lending Library

Arlington Public Library, Va.

Health & Wellness | 2017 | Top Innovator

Innovation Synopsis

Arlington launched the nation’s first Energy Lending Library , offering take-home tools to spot energy opportunities at home. Patrons can borrow a box of LED Bulbs, a thermal camera, an energy meter and books to help improve and guide energy efficiency projects. The popular program has been replicated regionally and nationally.


Utility bills are sometimes referred to as "the second rent." Energy audits can be expensive. This program gives residents free tools to spot missing insulation or air leaks in their homes (thermal cameras), takes the guesswork out of picking the right LED bulb (LED bulb sampler box), reaches more diverse audiences, relies on a partnership between different county agencies, provides action-oriented solutions and is being shared with other communities freely to replicate the program.

Key Elements of Innovation

It’s now as easy to check out a thermal camera, a box of 10 different LED bulbs, or an energy meter as it is to check out a library book. THERMAL CAMERAS: Thermal cameras spot air leaks and missing insulation. LED bulb samplers take the guess work out of buying efficient lighting with LED sample bulbs. Energy meters track energy use, make changes and save money. Books are available for adults and kids in English and Spanish.

Achieved Outcomes

Four thermal cameras were placed in circulation in April 2016. Within a week, the waitlist was eight months long. Consequently, 19 additional cameras were added. LED bulbs can be tested at home so patrons know what they need. Patrons learn about energy efficiency opportunities through the ELL and are directed to rebate programs to implement in-home energy efficiency improvements. Numerous jurisdictions have replicated the ELL program. Since May 2017, 731 ELL items have been loaned.