A record number of cold days in January, followed by a record snow to start February means 2011 is likely to be a season of record heating bills. For seniors and others on a fixed income, this can be especially challenging.
Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition and Elmhurst Senior Commission encourage all residents to learn about the DuPage Low-income Weatherization Program, which offers grants to home owners who qualify and want assistance to permanently cut their energy bills. The program is offered to home owners living below certain income levels: $21,000 per year for a single person, $44,000 for a family of four. Households eligible for disability assistance or supplemental Social Security insurance may also qualify.
Once accepted into the program, participants receive a free furnace or boiler safety test. Inspectors look for damage or needed repairs to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Once the furnace is confirmed safe, remaining work is focused on adding caulk and insulation where needed. Other projects might include storm window or door replacement. Grants up to a maximum of $8,000 are available. All work is designed around a diagnostic assessment to plan the project and a final test to confirm energy savings is achieved.
Participants in the program find that their homes are less drafty and more comfortable after the work is done. Furnace usage can be cut dramatically. Typical energy savings is 10 percent to 30 percent. Cool Cities estimates that a typical Elmhurst home might see a utility bill savings of $600 each year after participating in the DuPage Weatherization program.
Cool Cities and the Elmhurst Senior Commission encourage all Elmhurst residents to reach out to a senior or low-income family that might qualify for this program. Brochures on the program for individuals or for churches or other groups to distribute are available by contacting Cool Cities. Program details and contact information also is available on the Cool Cities Web site.
The site also has information on Project GREEN, which is for families who do not qualify for DuPage Weatherization but are still interested in home improvements that lead to energy bill savings.