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CITY, KUB AND CAC LAUNCH WEATHERIZATION PILOT PROGRAM
November 25, 2014
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Contact: Scott Bird
Round It Up program to benefit low-income homeowners and renters
Based on the recommendation of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge report, the City of Knoxville, KUB and Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) are launching the Round It Up program to raise funds through KUB bills to help weatherize the residences of low-income homeowners and renters in KUB’s service area.
“Round It Up offers a sustainable solution to complement the emergency services of Project Help, the program that provides emergency heating assistance to those who need temporary help,” said KUB board chair Bruce Anderson. “Weatherization provides a root-cause solution to an ongoing problem – low-income residents in energy-inefficient homes that cost more to heat and cool than they can afford.”
Through the pilot program, KUB customers will contribute by rounding up utility bills to the next whole dollar and donating the extra change to help low-income residents in the KUB service area improve the energy efficiency of their homes. All KUB customer accounts will be automatically enrolled in the program, following the model currently being used by successful programs operated by utility companies in the region and nationwide. KUB will begin collecting Round It Up funds in May 2015. Customers who choose not to participate may opt out at any time by notifying KUB.
KUB will not keep any funds collected through Round It Up; 100 percent of the funds raised will go to CAC to assist low-income customers.
“The average KUB customer contribution for an entire year will be $6; the maximum will be $11.88, but those small donations can make a significant impact for families and our environment,” said KUB President and CEO Mintha Roach. “With an average contribution of 50 cents per month and at least half of all KUB customer accounts participating, the Round It Up program could raise more than $600,000 per year to fund weatherization projects such as air sealing, insulation, installation of energy-efficient windows and replacement of outdated and broken heating systems.”
City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero believes the program benefits Knoxville as a whole, not just those citizens receiving assistance.
“The Round It Up program addresses a problem identified in the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge report: Our city’s aging housing infrastructure that consumes energy in excess.” said Rogero. “This program provides a compassionate and sustainable solution that helps families control utility costs and improve the environment by making more Knoxville homes energy efficient. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
“Funds raised through Round It Up will serve some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens – the elderly, physically disabled, mentally ill and low-income families with small children,” said CAC Executive Director Barbara Kelly. “On average, weatherization projects create energy cost savings of $437 per year per family, which is a lot to those living on a tight budget. Those savings will help fund purchases of necessities like food and medicine.”
Round It Up funds will expand the CAC’s existing Weatherization Assistance Program. As part of the weatherization process, CAC auditors visit homes to collect information about the structures and their inhabitants to determine the best course of action. Instruments such as a blower door that creates a vacuum within a dwelling help to identify areas needing weatherization. Data collected during these visits is entered into software developed by ORNL for the U.S. Department of Energy, and the software prioritizes possible improvements based on their ability to enhance energy efficiency. This structured approach helps ensure that weatherization dollars are spent wisely.
Weatherproofing projects typically cost around $4,500 and involve air sealing, water heater wrapping and insulation of walls, ducts, pipes and attics.
All KUB customer accounts will be automatically enrolled in the program, which will take effect beginning with April 2015 utility bills. KUB customers who do not wish to participate may opt out of the program at any time by contacting KUB by phone or by logging into customer accounts at http://www.kub.org.
For more information about CAC’s Weatherization Assistance Program, visit http://www.cachousing.org.
In addition to an expanded weatherization program, the Smarter Cites Challenge Report also recommended energy education programming. An energy conservation workshop, the first session in fulfillment of this recommendation, will be Wednesday, Dec. 10, at 5:00-6:15 p.m. at Lonsdale Elementary School, 1317 Louisiana Avenue.
KUB is a municipal utility serving Knox and parts of seven adjacent counties that provides reliable electric, natural gas, water and wastewater services to more than 444,000 customers.