JOLIET, Ill. (Oct. 27, 2009) - Joliet homeowner Deborah McDonald will save money and use less energy this winter, thanks to a "green" home makeover from Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson (IL-11), Will County Habitat for Humanity and Exelon employee volunteers on Oct. 24. The makeover was one of 70 weatherization projects for low-income Habitat homeowners as part of a three-state pilot program.
"As a longtime supporter of energy-efficient construction and home improvement, I'm very pleased to support this innovative program to weatherize homes here in Illinois," Halvorson said. "It's very important that we educate homeowners about the simple steps they can take to use less energy, which will lower their utility bills and make their homes more environmentally friendly."
Rep. Halvorson, who is co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition's Energy Task Force, met with the McDonald family, Exelon employees and Habitat for Humanity representatives. She then spent part of the day helping with the weatherization work, which included cleaning gutters, caulking, and installing weather stripping, insulation, compact fluorescent lighting and water-saving fixtures. Lawrence M. Walsh, Will County executive, also participated.
"We thank Congresswoman Halvorson for supporting our efforts to help customers and communities like those in the 11th District of Illinois reduce their carbon footprints and energy costs through easy, low-cost solutions," said Joseph Dominguez, Exelon senior vice president of corporate communications and public affairs. "Our partnership with Habitat for Humanity supports both Habitat's mission of affordable home ownership and Exelon's plan to eliminate the equivalent of our carbon footprint by 2020."
"We are thankful to have a Habitat home, which we've lived in for 15 years," said McDonald. "Because of all the energy-saving improvements that Exelon and Habitat volunteers have made today, we look forward to using less energy, lowering our utility bills and doing our part to help the environment."
The Exelon partnership is the first Habitat for Humanity International program to improve the energy efficiency of existing houses belonging to low-income homeowners, reducing energy usage and lowering their utility bills between 12 percent and 25 percent.
The partnership includes funding for weatherization projects valued at $2,000 to $8,000 per home and may include improvements such as weather stripping, caulking, adding or replacing door seals, installing water-saving toilets, replacing showerheads, replacing water heaters and furnace filters, installing CFL bulbs and insulating attics, basements and outer walls.
"This partnership allows us to make houses more environmentally friendly through energy efficiency," said Laurie McPhillips, chair of the board of directors, Will County Habitat for Humanity. "Through our work with Exelon, we have identified affordable, sustainable improvements that homeowners can make today to use less energy."
In addition to donating $300,000 to fund the program, Exelon is providing technical expertise and will donate an estimated 7,000 Exelon employee volunteer hours for the program. Over 10 months, Habitat and Exelon are designing the projects and developing training programs for volunteers and Habitat partner families across Exelon's service territories of northern Illinois, southeastern Pennsylvania and Texas.
Homeowners are identified by participating Habitat affiliates and must demonstrate need and a willingness to partner with Habitat as well as invest sweat equity hours to qualify for the program. Exelon and Habitat for Humanity International intend for the program to serve as a model for similar programs in other U.S. cities starting in 2010.
All homeowners in the service areas of Exelon's utility companies - Chicago-based ComEd and Philadelphia-based PECO - can participate in existing energy-efficiency programs these companies offer to customers. These programs are designed to help consumers manage and reduce their energy costs.
For Exelon, this program supports Exelon 2020 - the company's strategy to reduce, offset or displace more than 15 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year by 2020. Energy efficiency is widely viewed as one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as demonstrated by the $5 billion allocated for low-income weatherization programs under the federal stimulus package.
The Dow Chemical Co. and Whirlpool Corp. also are supporting the weatherization program. Dow is donating insulation, volunteer labor and expertise, and Whirlpool is donating energy-efficient appliances for the projects.