The Community Weatherization Coalition's “Do It Yourself Home Energy Tune-up" service is a free program that equips eligible homeowners and renters with the tools and knowledge to save energy, water and money.
The Community Weatherization Coalition (CWC),a nonprofit organization serving Gainesville and Alachua County residents has been providing in-home services to help low income, energy–burdened residents lower their utility bills since 2008. CWCvolunteers have helped reduce utility bills for over 1,200 families since the beginning of the program.
However, the program has had to change its game plan during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has halted the program's in-home service program.
CWC’s in-home service operations were put on hold on March 16 to help keep local residents, CWC volunteers and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Alane Humrich, program director at CWC. She said a new Do-it-yourself (DIY) Home Energy Tune-up pilot program was rolled out last summer, and in August was transitioned to the DIY program which equips energy-burdened Gainesville and Alachua County renters and homeowners with a tune-up kit that includes free supplies and tools, along with step-by-step instruction to save water, energy and money.
Humrich said the program is first come-first served, with a focus on low-income residents in the SWAG and east Gainesville neighborhoods, thanks to support from an Alachua County Community Redevelopment Grant. She said the DIY Home Tune-up program is also available to eligible residents living anywhere in Gainesville and Alachua County.
Humrich said DIY tune-up kits, which are checked out in a safe, socially distanced manner for a scheduled period, include a step-by-step checklist, instructional diagrams, a tutorial video playlist and virtual coaching for our participants to follow along.
“The kit teaches participants how their appliances can be modified to become more energy efficient and simple household additions and swaps that can save them money,” Humrich said.
Free applications are available to both renters and homeowners at CommunityWeatherization.org. Applicants can also call 352-450-4965 to request a paper application.
Participants give the DIY Home Energy Tune-Up program high marks.
Beatriz de Huebles,a UF sophomore who lives with a roommate in a two-bedroom apartment in southwest Gainesville, said their utility bill was $190 per month, and after participating in theDIY Home Energy Tune-up program, her utility bill decreased to $120-130 per month. She changed all her light bulbs to LED bulbs, and installed proper aerators in all her faucets, shower and toilet.
“I learned to change my behavior —doing things like turning lights off, washing clothes in cold water one load a week," she said. "It it made a huge difference. I definitely recommend this program. "
Hollie Johnson, who lives in a two-bedroom mobile home in northwest Gainesville, said she participated in the program, and immediately saved money. She said her monthly utility bill went from $500 to $250 per month. Johnson said the work she performed included fixing minor air leaks, weather stripping, insulating pipes and other work. She said CWC also provided information about resources in the community.
“I’m not handy, but I did it all by myself,” Johnson said. “The tool kit has unique things you need to make your house energy efficient. It’s a wonderful program and it’s free to residents. I recommend this program. it’s so well worth it.”