GRU puts $500K stimulus toward efficiency


Published: Friday, January 15, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 11:32 p.m.

As unusually cold weather gripped the area recently, many homeowners cranked up the heat and now will watch their electric bills rise.

This week, Gainesville Regional Utilities announced the expansion of a program that could help eligible low-income homeowners lower their electric usage and bills.

Using $528,000 in federal stimulus money, GRU plans to "more than double the number of homeowners we can help" through the utility's Low-income Energy Efficiency Program, GRU spokeswoman Kim Jamerson said.

Last year, the program aided 114 homeowners and had a budget of $342,000. This year, GRU expects the program to assist 276 homeowners and, thanks to the infusion of stimulus money, have $800,000 with which to work.

Through the LEEP program, a GRU inspector visits a home and then recommends upgrades to reduce electricity usage. The utility then pays as much as $3,000 in rebates to the contractor that performs the work.

GRU officials estimate that the program reduces electricity usage by an average of 13 percent.

The types of upgrades funded include repair or replacement of air-conditioning or heating units, repair of leaky ducts, insulation installation, weather stripping and caulking.

To be eligible, individuals must be GRU customers, own and live in their own home, which must be a single-family residence or mobile home built before 1993. The household income must be at or below 80 percent of the median family income for the area under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development criteria.

A homeowner's income must be confirmed by an assistance agency such as Neighborhood Housing & Development Corp., the North Central Florida Community Action Agency or the Department of Children & Families.

For more information, contact GRU at 393-1460. To access online information and an application, go to www.gru.com and click on "Save with Rebates."

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