DENVER, Colo. — Norma J. Paige and her husband have lived in their home for 37 years.
“As the home gets older, it settles, and so, as it settles, in all the little cracks and crevices, the weather seeps in,” said Paige.
The house gets too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, making it expensive to keep comfortable.
“We have space heaters that get carried around,” said Paige. “Our bills, at times in the winter, have exceeded $300 a month.”
Paige has dreamed of upgrading windows or adding insulating the attic, but for years, those projects have been on hold.
“We're senior citizens. We live primarily on social security, and, you know, some of those kinds of things that you need done to your home are just not affordable on that kind of income,” said Paige.
Through a friend, she found some unexpected help at the Energy Resource Center, a nonprofit organization in Colorado that helps make older homes more energy efficient for free. There are similar groups in every state.
“Our lowest-income families tend to live in the oldest and least efficient housing. So, people who can least afford a high energy bill have the highest bills,” said Howard Brooks, the CEO of the Energy Resource Center.
In the Paige family home, Brooks’ team is insulating the attic and sealing windows and doors. It could save them thousands of dollars over time.
This work is needed for millions of American homes. The National Association of Home Builders said the average home is 39 years old.
“Before the 70s, homes were built pretty much without insulation,” said Brooks. “If we go into a home that's 100 years old with a bad heater, we could save them over 50% of their utility usage. It's $200, $300 a year that a family will save forever.”
With the multi-billion dollar investment from Congress, programs across the country will get more funding to help families.
“For a long time, we were kind of these energy geeks over in the corner doing the work that we do, and we know how important it is, but it feels like more people are becoming aware of the importance of, you know, being more efficient with the energy that we use, so that that's a great thing,” said Brooks.
The Paige family hopes more people take advantage of similar services.
“You can be living comfortably, not above your means, and qualify for this program. people need to know,” said Paige.
To find help in your neighborhood, use this tool.