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Program Promises Lower Energy Bills for Low-Income Arizonans

March 9, 2010

PHOENIX - More than 6,000 low-income Arizona households will see lower energy bills as the result of $57 million in federal weatherization money. Miquelle Scheier, who coordinates the statewide weatherization program for the Arizona Community Action Association, says the funds are part of the government's economic stimulus package – and the savings for eligible families will be significant.

"The cost savings usually is 20 to 25 percent of their home fuel costs, which is anywhere from $350 a year to $450 a year."

The program is open to both homeowners and renters earning below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which means an annual income of up to $44,000 for a family of four. Scheier says the weatherization program also could mean hundreds of new Arizona jobs.

"For every $1 million invested in weatherization – now this is nationwide – 52 direct jobs are created and 23 indirect jobs are created."

The weatherization process for qualified homes begins with a computerized energy audit, she explains.

"Typical measures are installing insulation in the walls, in the floors and the attic; repairing and replacing the heating and cooling unit; and reducing the imbalances in the air filtration and the pressure."

Scheier estimates a half-million homes in Arizona could be eligible for the program. Even with the new funding, she adds, there is only funding for a small fraction of those. The program is expected to continue for the next two years. Applications are being taken at community action offices in every county; more information is online at www.azcaa.org.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ