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PG&E program helps improve home efficiency
They'll weatherstrip your doors, swap your light bulbs and replace your refrigerator for free.
Pacific Gas & Electric's Energy Partners program, available to income-qualifying customers, offers residents a free home inspection and basic repairs to improve a home's energy efficiency. The program was started in 1983, and has helped almost 2,800 Yuba-Sutter residents in the last 18 months.
When inspectors came to Sutter resident Linda Bivert's home last week, they caulked her windows, replaced lighting and blocked air leaks in the walls.
"I think it's a great program, especially when your finances are so low," she said.
When Bivert's husband became disabled 1 1⁄2 years ago, she assumed the role of caretaker and the couple started having to cut back. She's also now responsible for all of their home's basic maintenance.
"I'm overloaded right now," she said. "This is something that probably would have been on the back burner." So Sharice LaRose and Eddie Punzo did the work for her.
As inspectors with Residential Weatherization Incorporation, they perform contract labor for PG&E in Yuba, Sutter, Yolo and Placer counties. Each of the company's 10 crews can weatherize four homes a day.
One of the first things LaRose did when she arrived at Bivert's house was to check all gas appliances for leaks. Then she started weatherizing the doors that lead outside.
"We try to seal up anywhere air can get in or out of the home," she said.
LaRose installs foam pads behind light sockets and switch plates, caulks under sinks and around windows, and puts rubber and metal weatherizing strips around the doors.
She and Punzo also arrive at customers' homes with an arsenal of compact fluorescent light bulbs. The bulbs are the brightness equivalent of a traditional 60-watt bulb but consume less than a quarter of the energy.
If needed, they will install a water blanket around the hot water heater, and replace any refrigerators made before 1993.
"There's a lot of people who probably need this help," Bivert said. "They can't afford it or don't know how to do it."
And some may just not know it exists. She wasn't aware of Energy Partners until her sister told her about it.
Customers benefit because their homes become energy efficient which ultimately reduces their monthly utility bills, said PG&E spokesman Brian Swanson. And the utility provider benefits, too.
"The bottom line is PG&E is better off financially when customers use less energy, not more," Swanson said. "So almost all of our programs are designed to get customers to use less."
The company offers several other programs for financial assistance and energy savings, including SmartAC and California Alternate Rates for Energy, also known as CARE.
As of April, 12,477 Sutter County residents and 10,430 Yuba County residents were in the CARE program, and all of them would qualify for Energy Partners.
CONTACT Ashley Gebb at 749-4724 or firstname.lastname@example.org.