Brrrrrr! Cooler temperatures are a signal to many Alexandria residents that it is time to prepare their homes for the winter. However, for homeowners of limited means, many of whom are elderly, disabled, or veterans, the cost and effort involved in the seasonal upkeep of a home is often beyond their financial and physical capabilities.
Even though it may not be obvious, inside homes with normal exteriors, owners may be coping with a variety of problems that will worsen during cold weather. Earlier this year, a father of six who worked hard as a landscaper to feed and educate his children, needed to weatherize his home so he could afford to live safely in it. Physical disabilities related to his life as a laborer prevented him from doing so himself.
To help, Rebuilding Together Alexandria volunteers stepped in to make energy efficient updates and restore his residence to a safe, comfortable home so he is able to continue to remain in the community he loves. Most of our clients are like this man — people who are proud homeowners, but who due to life circumstances, have a hard time maintaining their homes and making ends meet.
On Oct. 25, Rebuilding Together Alexandria volunteers will be performing these upgrades and others as part of our Energize Alexandria event, a day of winterizing homes across the city. They will weatherize and provide free energy-efficient upgrades to homes of low-income veterans, disabled, and elderly residents.
Beyond this event, we are encouraging people to winterize and do energy upgrades for neighbors in need. It can help them remain in their homes. Here is a list of easy, energy-saving upgrades:
Install a programmable thermostat to lower utility bills: By using a programmable thermostat, homeowners can save about $180 annually.
Insulate attic hatches: Attics—including attic doors—are a great place to add more insulation to make a home more comfortable and efficient.
Set water heater to 120 degrees: According to the Department of Energy, every 10 degree reduction in water temperature will save 3–5 percent in energy costs.
Cover AC: Covering window or wall-mounted air conditioning units with a “jacket” during the winter months will keep a home warmer and save money.
Caulk around doors and windows: Caulking—along with weather-stripping—will cut energy use, saving nearly $200 a year.
Seal windows: Hardware stores carry plastic film that can be applied with ease to windows, saving money and helping minimize cold drafts.
These upgrades are important since many of our clients live in older homes, which tend to be energy inefficient, often resulting in vulnerable homeowners spending three times the average for heating and electricity.
This winter, if more people can devote an hour helping a neighbor in need, they can change a life, save energy, and help strengthen our community. If you know an Alexandria homeowner who could use our help, please visit www.RebuildingTogetherAlex.org or call 703-836-1021.