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Help with heating costs

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By Jennifer Warnick - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Last year's freezing temperatures sent most of our heating bills sky high. Richmond's weatherization program helped dozens of vulnerable residents make necessary repairs to their homes. NBC12's discount diva shows you why more people can get that help this year. 

Dorothy Smith loves her 90 year old, 3000 square foot home, but she considered selling it. 

"My gas bill was $1000 a month," Smith said. 

She kept her thermostat at 80 degrees. 

"And it still wasn't warm in here," she added. 

Until she signed up for Richmond's weatherization program. Over three days, Elder Homes insulated her attic and walls; weather stripped doors and sealed air leaks in the basement. 

"The water heater was rusted out and the boiler was rusted out," said Steve Lambert, Estimator/Inspector with Elder Homes. 

So both were replaced with newer models. The goal is to cut Dorothy's bill up to 50%. 

The crew moved onto western Richmond to see Jean Heath. Balloon framing was the way to go when her home was built in 1924. The walls were constructed first, then the floors were added; great for appeal, but not for a heating oil bill. Elder Homes assessed her home's problems using a blower door system that pulls air out of the house. 

"The smoke is a little easier to see," said Mark Marshpund, Head Inspector with Elder Homes. 

They start in the basement where air is clearly leaking in from outside plus... 

"Every 16 inches there's a cavity that pulls up from the basement to the attic pulling heat directly out of the house," said Marshpund. 

So all of that get will get sealed. Then up to the main floor. Her fireplace, AC unit, light switches and even her steps let that cold air creep into her living space. And the last stop, the attic. It needed 8 more inches of insulation to keep heat inside the house. 

"It pays for itself pretty quickly," Marshpund said. 

Elder Homes will service the furnace for maximum efficiency. 

"This is going to be money saving thing for me and I'm really excited," said Heath. 

Over in the Northside, so is Dorothy. 

"They are the best thing that could ever happen," she said. 

The weatherization program received half a million dollars from this year's budget surplus. That will mean even more money available to help those in need this year. 

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