Gainesville Regional Utilities celebrated the improvement of more than 1,000 homes through its Low-income Energy Efficiency Program (LEEP) on April 30 at the home of Gainesville resident David Mosley, one of the program’s participants.
The program, established in 2007 after a 2006 pilot run, is designed to offer free home improvements to GRU customers in order to lower their utility bills. Each home improvement averages about $3,800 worth of upgrades to heating and air units, ductwork, insulation, inefficient water systems and sometimes windows. GRU also leaves behind 10 fluorescent, energy-efficient light bulbs at each site.
In Mosley’s home, GRU and Mark Hurm & Company replaced two air units with one more efficient unit, installed a new natural gas heating unit and connected ductwork. He said that since the improvements were completed his electric consumption has dropped 40 percent. In the winter, he said, his bill was more than $700, and with new equipment his highest bill has been $318.
“I’m very pleased with everything GRU’s done,” Mosley said. “I was going from payday to payday on utilities, and my light bill has come down tremendously. GRU really helped me out. But there are a lot more people out there who need help and some are afraid to come out and ask for it, so we need to get the word out.”
GRU is accepting applications for new program participants, said GRU’s Ashley Rock, and plans to improve 120 homes in 2014. Applicants must own a single-family home built before 1997, be a GRU customer, meet the U.S. Department of Housing low-income guidelines and not have gone through the program already. The process averages about three months and participants typically see about 13 percent utility savings, Rock said.
“And I would encourage people to apply again if they don’t make it in the first time,” she said. “Sometimes the requirements change, and you can always reapply when you meet them.”