Extreme Energy Makeover
Last October, CAPC joined with Gulf Power for a Weatherization Day event in Santa Rosa County.
About 36 volunteers visited the home of a local resident to make energy efficient upgrades and help her save energy and money. The upgrades included installing a new heat pump water heater, upgrading the heating and cooling system, installing window replacements and weather stripping and other general weatherization installations.
Upgrades to the resident’s home were paid for through CAPC as well as sponsorships. Sponsorships and volunteers for the event came from Gulf Power Company, Chelco Electric, Clear Creek Construction LLC, Curly Construction of NW Florida Inc., Parker Custom Built Homes Inc., S.L. Watkins Enterprises Inc., Patterson Quality Construction and Design Home Builders, Inc.
“There is such a high need for this type of program in our area,” said Natalie Smith, Gulf Power spokesperson. “We’re happy to be part of this effort not only to help this one resident save energy and money but also to build awareness about how our customers can save money.”
CAPC coordinates Weatherization Day every year to recognize and celebrate the grant it receives to help low-income families. In 2013, the grant amount was about $1.2 million.
“This year’s grant is expected to weatherize 150 dwellings in Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties,” said CAPC Housing/Safety Director Connie Parker. “The reason for weatherization is to reduce energy consumption, and those that qualify for this program essentially receive a free energy makeover.”
Qualification for the weatherization program is based on income and household size.
“We’ve already served 31 families during this cycle, and another 30 homes are in the process of being weatherized,” said Parker.
Improving quality of life for members of the community is a shared goal of CAPC and Gulf Power. This goal is why the two organizations began a partnership more than 25 years ago to help provide options to individuals and families struggling to pay bills.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded, income-based program that provides financial help to low-income households to meet the costs of home heating and cooling.
Those in need can apply to receive help to pay monthly electricity bills, and once approved, CAPC works with Gulf Power to pay the customer’s bills through LIHEAP.
The partnership has led to a constant stream of communication between Gulf Power and CAPC about customers in need of help.
“LIHEAP gives us another way to help our customers,” said Tim Stronko, Gulf Power customer service manager-Pensacola office. “We had a situation with an elderly woman who couldn’t travel and was having trouble paying her bills. We were able to call CAPC on her behalf and ask them to do a home visit to assess her situation and see if she could qualify for assistance. We were very happy to learn that she was eligible and got the help she needed.”
CAPC works to broaden the benefits of the program by educating those who apply.
“They may just want help paying their bill at first. But we want to try to educate them about behavioral changes to help them decrease their overall bill every month and make it more manageable for them,” said CAPC Executive Director Douglas Brown.
In 2013, 2,319 families (657 of which had children under five years of age) and 393 senior citizens were helped through the LIHEAP program in Northwest Florida.