Celebrating Earth Day with Ted Trabue of the DCSEU


Happy Earth Day! As we wrap up our first week of the Reduce Energy Use DC campaign, we are reflecting on the importance of taking action in the District to support protecting the Earth and our environment. Taking the Reduce Energy Use DC pledge is a great way for you and your loved ones to make a difference in celebration of Earth Day 2021.

Our blog today features a Q&A with our friend Ted Trabue, the managing director of the District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU). DCSEU has helped tens of thousands of District residents and businesses use less energy and save millions of dollars on their energy costs. In his role, Ted is responsible for leading the DCSEU in meeting its economic, environmental, and green job creation goals. Read about the amazing outcomes DCSEU has been able to accomplish, as well as some of his energy saving tips below.


What does your role with DCSEU entail? 

I have been the Managing Director of the DCSEU since 2011, almost since the beginning of the DCSEU. In my role, I oversee the day-to-day operations of the DCSEU and direct the long-term vision to ensure our programs and services are meeting the District’s benchmarks for reducing energy usage, creating green jobs for DC residents, and ensuring low-to moderate-income communities have access to and are benefiting from energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Why did DCSEU originally say ‘yes’ to being a REUDC partner?

The DCSEU is committed to helping the District reduce its energy consumption, transition to 100% renewable energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2032. We believe that everyone can help make a difference to reduce energy use for the District and contribute to a significant reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions. We are here to support residents and businesses with rebates and technical assistance to help them make the changes we all need to achieve these goals.

As it is Earth Day, what are some of the best ways to save energy today and going forward?

You can save energy with little to no cost, and it starts with something as small as switching your lightbulbs to LEDs. You can also use advanced power strips for your devices at home and install a smart thermostat to actively regulate the temperature, humidity, and overall air quality in your home.  

Other routine maintenance such as changing out air filters and checking and sealing drafts in your windows can go a long way.  

When appliances or systems break in your home, make sure you look to replace it with an ENERGY STAR or energy-efficient model and apply for a rebate from the DCSEU to help bring down the cost.

Businesses can make changes in the way they operate and can upgrade their lighting, HVAC, food service, and other equipment to reduce their energy use and costs. We encourage businesses to reach out to us to find out how we can help with rebates and technical assistance.

How does your work at DCSEU help the larger DC community?

Since 2011, the DCSEU has generated $1.2 billion in lifetime energy cost savings for DC residents and businesses. We have also invested more than $50 million in energy efficiency and renewable energy in low-income communities and prevented 6.2 million tons in greenhouse gas emissions. We have also invested more than $50 million with District Certified Business Enterprises (CBEs). 

Our work has also helped create 800 green jobs for DC residents at a living wage, including our Workforce Development program, which provides DC residents with up to 5-month paid externships with local businesses/organizations to get on-the-job training and ready them for new careers in the green economy. 

Since 2012, we have helped more than 700 income-qualified families get solar installed on their roofs at no cost. We have also helped more than 4,000 income-qualified families cut their electricity bills in half through bill credits generated by community solar installations as part of our operation of DOEE’s Solar for All program over the last two years.

What is the most important piece of information that you wish everyone knew about saving energy?

Everyone has a role to play, everyone can make a difference, and you can start small. Something as simple as turning the lights off when you leave a room can impact your bills and the District. If you’re not sure where to get started, we can help. Take the first step in your home by purchasing a DCSEU Energy Conservation Kit (or if you receive LIHEAP benefits, get one for free) – the items inside could save you up to $40 a year on your energy bills.