Texas gets $327M to help make homes energy efficient




Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 12:19 PM


Brad Watson reports

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DALLAS - For those looking for help on cutting down their utility bill, weatherizing one's home could save $300 a year.

Texas normally gets about $13 million a year in federal funds to help homeowners. But over the next three years, Texas will $327 million in federal stimulus money to help make homes energy efficient.

That may mean that hundreds more homeowners in Dallas County will likely share the view Billie Jones has seen on how weatherizing can cut down on utility costs.

"It's been a struggle," she said."You know. Social Security isn't that much."

Jones' house is one of 250 the county weatherizes annually, using about $1 million in federal money. A contractor puts in new windows for her aging home.

But, under the stimulus law, the county may receive $4 to $6 million more a year to weatherize more houses, according to Zachary Thompson, the director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.

"But when you start talking about an additional 500 to 600 homes that we will add, we will need additional contractors to do this," he said.

Some counties around the nation have found it troubling to find enough workers and also found some of the stimulus details confusing.

The money comes through the state, which says its spending plan isn't due until May 12.

The county says it will find enough installers to do more houses and more work on them.

As of now, Integrity Texas Construction is the lead contractor. Jaime Pelayo, the contractor's project manager, said they use more of everything from "weather stripping, foam tape" and other measures "to keep the house more energy efficient."

The county says an energy efficient house means the low income owner won't need taxpayer help later to pay high utility bills.