BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Manitoba Hydro's Colleen Galbraith, Ashley (guy) Nichols and Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation's Hope Switzer, left, head out to canvas door-to-door on the 700-block of Seventh Street on Thursday.
One block in Brandon has hit the proverbial energy-efficiency jackpot — if such a thing existed.
Manitoba Hydro and Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation have a special program targeting the 700-block of Seventh Street in Brandon. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Manitoba Hydro has teamed up with the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corp. to target a small slice of homes on Seventh Street between College Avenue and Van Horne Avenue for energy upgrades.
While the Affordable Energy Program typically comes with rigid guidelines that includes an income threshold, the condition will be waived for homes in the block allowing for upgrades and installation of insulation.
"I’m really excited and I hope that we qualify," said Dianna Hall, who lives on the block.
Hall and her husband have lived in their home for more than 40 years.
The bungalow-style home was moved onto a concrete basement prior to the family purchasing the home.
Hall said where the foundation meets the top floor is very cold in the winter time, making the basement and top floor chilly.
"In the winter the walls and floor in the basement almost feel like they’re burning your skin they are so cold," she said.
Throughout the years, her husband has renovated the upper floor, but the basement remains unfinished. The lack of insulation means heating bills can soar to $300 during the frigid months.
Her attic is filled with outdated wood shavings, something that could also be remedied under the program.
"It sure would be nice to get it done," Hall said. "We’ve planned on doing it slowly but everything costs so we’re hoping we get picked."
Manitoba Hydro spokesman Scott Powell said the program is geared to help low-income families improve their home.
"First, we work to provide an efficiency review from an energy adviser who explains how the program works," Powell said.
During the review, some items such as low-flow faucets, pipe wrap and compact fluorescent lights are provided for free to kick-start energy savings.
"Based on the results of the review, qualifying homeowners can receive free insulation upgrades and they may be eligible for a new high-efficiency natural gas furnace for $9.50 per month on a fixed term for five years," Powell said.
While not its primary initiative, it also allows the provincial power supplier to save energy that can be sold to the United States.
The block was one of several that were suggested by the Brandon Neighbourhood and Renewable Corp.
"We wanted to go where we felt we could get the most bang for our dollar based on those suggested," Powell said about selecting the neighbourhood.
The program, which has been around since 2007, has helped 8,400 homes throughout the province, although most of those homes had to meet all of the requirements.
Hope Switzer, energy efficiency co-ordinator with the BNRC, canvassed the neighbourhood with hydro officials yesterday afternoon to make sure residents of the block understood the opportunity and options that were being presented to them.
Income thresholds typically mean a resident would only be approved if they made under approximately $30,000 per year, a couple would need to be under $37,000, three occupant households under $45,500, and so on.
With the requirement waived, Switzer hopes every homeowner takes advantage of the program.
"It would be crazy to turn this program down," Switzer said. "I would surprised if anyone on the block turned it down because they are basically giving it away."
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 6, 2014