Tennessee residents with inefficient housing and high energy bills could benefit from programs that make home weatherization improvements more accessible.
Students at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. spent a recent Saturday volunteering with Appalachian Voices and others to give two local homes an energy efficiency boost. The work was part of the school’s 18th annual MLK Challenge. “They caught energy leaks I knew nothing about,” said Faith Wright of Vilas, N.C., who was grateful for the volunteer energy of what she called the “student worker bees.”
Appalachian Voices recently produced several short instructional videos about home projects that can lower your energy bill as well as help you protect the environment by consuming less energy.
For the Schmidt family of Tazewell, Tennessee, managing their budget is a balancing act, and one they have become very good at. But high electric bills–up to $300 in the winter–makes that balance tricky to maintain, sometimes leaving very little for emergency funds, much less for the home repairs they need that could actually lower their energy use.
Energy use and costs are higher in Appalachia than the national average, so when a high proportion of family income goes towards paying the utility bill, something needs to be done in order to reduce people’s electricity bills through improved home energy efficiency.
“We do everything we can to keep energy,” Barbara Taylor says as she heads down the stairs to the basement of the home she has shared with her husband, Paul, in New Tazewell, Tennessee since 1980. Outside it’s a humid 78 degrees, but in the narrow basement room that houses the Taylors’ heat pump it’s cool and dry.
We’re taking a moment to step back and celebrate a significant milestone in our Energy Savings for Appalachia program. Just a few days ago, Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp. launched a financing program that enables eligible members to make energy efficient home improvements now, and repay the co-op on their monthly bills over time. It’s a win-win for residents, local economies and the environment.
The Knoxville Extreme Energy Makeover project is working to weatherize 1,278 homes by September 2017. They aim to reduce energy spending by at least 25 percent for each home weatherized.
TVA is delivering millions of dollars in grants to communities in East Tennessee to start programs to help families weatherize their homes so they can stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer while saving money on their electric bill. People like Dorothy Ware of Knoxville.