Residents in inner-city neighborhoods are more likely to get slammed with super-high utility bills.
That's where many small- to medium-size homes were built before the 1940s and have poor insulation. It's also where several families have called 311 more than 21 times in a year seeking utility assistance.
Chattanooga GreenSpaces has launched an initiative to help, and they're asking the public to participate in a fundraiser to pay for it.
The nonprofit wants to raise $10,000 by the end of this month. The goal is in recognition of GreenSpaces' 10-year anniversary in Chattanooga. And if the organization reaches the goal, there is a donor pledging to double the amount, says Michael Walton, executive director.
GreenSpaces presents workshops at four sites around Chattanooga each month. The programs are designed to teach simple, low-cost ways to save energy and lower monthly utility bills. Children are welcome. A free meal is provided.
› First Monday: 6-6:30 p.m. at Glass House Collective, 2501 Glass St.
› Second Tuesday: 6-7 p.m. at the Bethlehem Center, 200 W. 38th St.
› Third Thursday: 6-7 p.m. at New City East Lake, 2903 E. 37th St. (available in English and Spanish)
› Last Saturday: 10-11 a.m. at Sacra Coffee, 801 S. Orchard Knob Ave.
The fundraiser started Thursday, Oct. 5, Energy Efficiency Day. The day is a national and regional effort to promote energy efficiency, cut consumer bills and reduce pollution.
A portion of the money will be used to fund Empower Chattanooga, a program where GreenSpaces representatives show residents how to save money in their homes. They give residents a free kit to help them get started.
The kit recommends replacing incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs and includes a free LED bulb to help residents get started. It also includes rope caulk and suggests putting it around windows where outdoor air may enter. And it has a device that goes on faucets to reduce the amount of hot water used. The kit also includes a device that whistles when air filters need to be changed.
If a resident follows just some of the suggestions, he sees an average savings of about 15 percent, but some households have reported savings as high as 45 percent, says Sam Fulbright, program director.
Empower Chattanooga focuses on homes in the Alton Park, East Chattanooga, Highland Park and Ridgedale areas. These are neighborhoods responsible for the largest number of calls to 311, the city's help line, for energy assistance. Some homes called 21 to 33 times within a year. One home made 63 calls in a year for assistance. That's more than a call a week, says Fulbright.
To donate to GreenSpaces, visit www.greenspaceschattanooga.org.
GreenSpaces sees the problem. The average utility bill in the state is about $123 a month, according to the Energy Information Administration. But utility bills from the target communities range from $200 to $400 on average. And some bills topped $600. One home got a $1,200 electric bill, says Walton.
"Our electric bills kill us because of poor insulation," says a Glenwood resident identified as Dr. J in a video made by GreenSpaces earlier this year.
The footage was shot during the summer when the outdoor temperature was more than 90 degrees. In the video, Dr. J notes the improvement in her utility bill and comfort level in her home after GreenSpaces showed her how to save energy.
"Not only is my house cooler, it's quieter," she says. "The caulking around the windows where a lot of the air was coming in has made a real difference."
She is among 1,200 homeowners or renters that GreenSpaces helped this year through its Empower Chattanooga program.
Contact Yolanda Putman at email@example.com or 423-757-6431.
Weatherization is one of the easiest ways to make your home more energy efficient. By making sure your home is sealed properly and that you’re not wasting water, you can drive down your energy costs.
If you’re looking for ways to get started weatherizing your home, the list of items below is a good place to start.
Place caulk or foam between the electrical box and drywall on switches and outlets located on exterior walls. Then place these foam gaskets behind the plates for a good, airtight seal.
Child safety caps
Promote energy conservation and child safety by keeping drafts and your child’s favorite toys away from unused electrical outlets.
If you have an attic access located within your home, make sure the access door is insulated and seals tight, much like a refrigerator. Use weather-stripping and screen door latches for a snug seal.
Caulk is best for gaps and cracks less than about 1/4-inch wide. If the caulked joint will be visible, consider using paintable caulk. Use a high-quality caulk to ensure durability and longevity.
Window insulator kit
These kits seal windows airtight and eliminate condensation, cold drafts and heat loss. The kit contains enough plastic shrink film and two-way tape to cover four average-size windows. Use tape to hold the plastic film in place and then use a hair dryer to shrink film to form a smooth, tight finish inside a storm window.
Low-flow shower head and sink aerator
A family of four each showering five minutes a day can use about 700 gallons of water per week. Water conserving showerheads and faucet aerators can cut hot water use in half, saving that family 14,000 gallons of water a year.
Insulated pipes keep the hot water that exists in the pipes warmer, meaning you won’t have to wait as long for hot water — reducing waste.
Water heater jacket cover
A water heater jacket can reduce up to 15 percent of the costs of heating water by preventing energy loss.
Silicone caulk helps fill cracks and gaps where air can enter or escape your home.
Toilet tank displacement device
Control the amount of water used to flush your toilet, saving hundreds of gallons of water per year.
Foundation vent cover
Help keep cold air out of your basement or crawl space by covering vents during the winter. Foundation vents help keep your floors warmer and ultimately your heating bills down.
Shower head on/off switch
Turn off or lower the flow of your shower when you need less. Perfect for reducing water waste when shaving.
The insulation R-value you need depends on the climate and your heating and cooling system, but the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness.
Source: Chattanooga Gas