Good Weather: City Program Successful At Saving Energy Costs

A city program aimed at cutting energy costs by weatherizing homes in a northeast-side neighborhood has worked so well that officials say they'll try it in two more low-income communities early next year. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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"They insulated around the doors, around the windows. I had a broken window up there, they fixed the broken window. They went up in the attic, they insulated the attic."

For Lois Richmond, a knock on her door turned out to be worth hundreds of dollars. She's lived in her Pleasantville home since 1957 but hadn't ever done much to weatherize it. Hers was one of 641 homes in the neighborhood that qualified for a city program that's reducing electric costs for lower-income residents.

"I am a senior citizen myself and we really need help because we don't get a lot of money now that we were getting when we were working. We're just living on this set income that we get once a month, and it helps a great deal."

City officials compared energy costs in the homes that participated in the weatherization program from June, July and August of 2005 to the same three months this year. The median savings was $160 per home. This is mayor Bill White.

"When you're talking about $160 in three months, now you're talking about real big money for a lot of people. This is why I want this city, and this example, this is living proof of what the public and private sector can do working together to make a big difference in the standard of living of people here in our community."

City of Houston Building Services Director Issa Dadoush says simple fixes can lead to big savings.

"The simple things that we've done from adding insulation in the attics, about 9 inches of insulation, to adding weather stripping at the main door or caulking the windows, just the simplist things have reduced their energy consumption by 15 percent."

The city plans to expand the weatherization program to the Scott Terrace and Lindale subdivisions early next year, with hopes to weatherize about 500 homes in each neighborhood. Centerpoint Energy is paying for most of the work through its conservation program, and CEO Tom Standish says even if homeowners don't qualify for the program, it would be worth it make the fixes anyway.

"We have a web site, which is centerpointeffeciency.com. On that website there's a list of companies that provide weatherization and you can contact one of those companies, they'll come out, take a look at your home, see what weatherization may be possible and then if some of that qualifies under our program, then people can be eligible for it."

You can find out more about the weatherization program on our website, KUHF.org.

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