Creating an Efficient, Healthy Home in West Pullman
After receiving a tip from a West Pullman neighbor, Diana Story enrolled in the energy efficiency program made available through the City of Chicago’s Micro Market Recovery Program (MMRP). Elevate Energy conducted an assessment of her 55 year-old home and found the typical efficiency needs—airsealing and insulation in the attic, basement, and perimeter walls. The assessment also revealed several hazardous conditions that needed attention. The home’s furnace emitted dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide due to its improper ventilation. Electrical junctions were exposed, putting the family at risk of electrical shock or fire. The clothes dryer in the basement wasn’t properly ventilated, making it a fire hazard.
While on-site to inspect the contractor’s repairs a few weeks later, Elevate Energy discovered additional health and safety issues. The family had turned the basement that was once used as a storage and mechanical room into a bedroom and living space. Building code restricts combustion appliances from being used in sleeping quarters. Elevate Energy also discovered water seepage in the basement from heavy rain the night before.
Elevate Energy served as Ms. Story’s advocate, coordinating with her, the efficiency contractor, a water-sealing company, and program administrators to address the additional issues. The efficiency contractor changed his scope of work and built out a room in the basement to separate the bedroom from the mechanicals, and Elevate Energy is still working with the Story family and water-sealing contractor to resolve the seepage problem.
Ms. Story plans to recommend the program to others in her community. “I had no idea we had places like [Elevate Energy] for people with low incomes who can’t afford to get work done,” Ms. Story said. “They’re really serving and helping people.”
The improvements cost nearly $8,000, and were paid for with an MMRP forgivable loan, serviced by Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago and made possible through a federal Community Development Block Grant disbursed by the City of Chicago. As long as the Story family remains in the home for four years, the loan will not have to be paid back. The improvements are expected to save the Storys 26% annually on natural gas costs, or approximately $400.
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Interested in making your own home more energy efficient? Learn more and apply to the program.