Nonprofit coalition helps residents reduce utility bills

by Alane Humrich, Program Director, Community Weatherization Coalition

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, local Gainesville nonprofit, the Community Weatherization Coalition (CWC), found new ways to continue to bring utility savings to low-income Alachua County residents. CWC volunteers have helped reduce utility bills for over 1,200 families since operations started in 2008. With an innovative, new Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Home Energy Tune-up Program launched last year, the CWC upheld their mission to help their neighbors save energy and water and reduce their utility bills, by engaging volunteers, building community, and learning together. 

In March of 2020, the CWC halted its in-home, volunteer-led, Home Energy Tune-up Program out of caution around the global pandemic. Last summer, the CWC rolled out the DIY Home Energy Tune Up service, which taught Alachua County renters and homeowners how to perform a tune-up on their own homes, while protecting our community from the spread of COVID-19. 

CWC’s DIY program equips energy-burdened Alachua County residents with the supplies and steps to save water, energy, and money. The free service also works to maintain our community’s health and respects any accommodations that clients may need: tune-up kits are checked out in a safe, socially distanced manner for a scheduled period. DIY tuneup kits include a step-by-step checklist, instructional diagrams, a tutorial video playlist, and virtual coaching for DIY-ers as needed. The kit teaches participants ways to improve the efficiency of their appliances and how simple retrofits can save them water, energy, and money. To date, 70 local households have taken part in CWC’s DIY Tune-up Program. 

After 15 long months of the suspension of in-home services and careful consideration, the CWC is preparing to resume volunteer-led home energy tune-ups. The CWC is eager to serve the community in person again, while reengaging their volunteer Energy Coaches, to help local families recover from an extraordinarily difficult year. 

In an era where we all might be looking to save more money, the CWC’s DIY and volunteer-led Tune-up Programs help residents with high utility burdens live more sustainably while lowering utility expenses. Applications for both programs are free and available to both renters and homeowners on the CWC’s website, Interested persons may also call (352) 450-4965 for more information or to request an application by mail.

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