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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Weatherization program keeps low-income residents warm

1/14/2009  1:30:00 PM

Weatherization program keeps low-income residents warm
HomeWise improves energy-efficiency, saves money and reduces carbon footprint

Weatherization  program keeps low-income residents warm, January 14, 2009

SEATTLE – Mayor Greg Nickels today highlighted a city program that helps low-income Seattle residents improve their homes’ energy-efficiency, saving them money while keeping them warm. The effort also helps shrink the city’s carbon footprint.

“Some residents, particularly the elderly living on fixed incomes, feel the impact of high utility bills more than others,” said Nickels. “These weatherization services ensure folks don’t have to suffer through the cold days because they can’t afford to heat their homes.”

Administered by the Office of Housing, the HomeWise Weatherization program offers qualifying residents free services, including: air sealing, insulation, venting, weatherstripping, and other energy conservation-related repairs. These improvements can translate into safer and healthier homes, as well as lower energy bills.

In 2008, the city of Seattle committed $2.72 million to weatherize 877 Seattle low-income homes through the weatherization program – saving Seattle City Light 2.32 million kWh – enough electricity to power 232 average Seattle households. The energy savings also reduced CO2 emissions by an estimated 1,393 metric tons, equivalent to taking 255 cars off the road.

This year, the HomeWise budget is about $4.7 million – almost double the 2008 budget, thanks to increased investments from the state and federal government. HomeWise hopes to reach 1,000 homes this year.

A broad range of people, from retirees living on fixed incomes, to grocery store clerks, nurses and those working in the retail sector, are eligible for weatherization services.

Income limits vary depending on household size and whether the home has gas, oil, or electric heat. For example, the annual household income limit for a home with electric heat must be below about $43,000 for a single person, or about $49,000 for a two-person household. Income limits for homes with gas or oil heat are much lower.

Today Nickels visited the home of 80-year-old Evelyn Wong. Last summer, Wong received much needed improvements to the home where she’s lived for 50 years.

“I'm so pleased with the services of this program. I hope other seniors will take advantage of it, too,” said Wong. “The temperature in my home used to stay in the 50s. Instead of leaving the heat on to stay warm, I would just wear two pairs of pants and three tops at a time. Now, even without the heat on, all of the rooms in my home remain above 60 degrees.”

Using state-of-the art equipment, HomeWise property rehabilitation specialist Barry Henderson conducted an energy analysis of Wong’s home, then recommended a conservation package.

A private contractor completed the improvements to the home, including insulation, a new fan in the bathroom to eliminate excess moisture and prevent mold, weatherstripping of the doors, two carbon monoxide monitors, CFL light bulbs, and a new replacement for her 60-year old freezer. These services, totaling over $9,000, were completed at no cost to Wong.

“While a properly weatherized house provides a safe and healthy environment for the current residents, it also preserves our housing stock, ensuring future residents will have a healthy home,” said Adrienne Quinn, director of the Office of Housing. “Plus, the increased energy efficiency is a benefit to our environment and our entire community.”

Interested homeowners should call the Office of Housing at (206) 684-0244 to talk to an outreach representative.

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