Stimulus weatherization program has improved 3,800 homes |

Stimulus weatherization program has improved 3,800 homes

With each project coming in just about half the expected cost, the head of the stimulus-funded weatherization program has now made energy saving improvements for 3,753 families – nearly half for low income seniors.

Hilary Lopez, chief of federal programs for the Department of Business and Industry, said they originally expected each project to cost about $5,000 but they are coming in about $2,600 apiece because many of the project are in apartment complexes where contractors get much better bang for the buck.

The projects range from air conditioning and heating systems to insulation, ductwork and other improvements – even low flow shower heads – as well as fixing health and safety issues. Any family making less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level is eligible, she told the Interim Finance Committee on Friday.

“It makes a big difference in terms of how much they pay for utilities,” she said of the work.

Lopez said the projects done thus far have cost $14.19 million. She said the total amount Nevada qualified for under the program is $37.1 million. She said with the remaining money, she expects to be able to weatherize nearly double the original projected 5,000 homes and apartment.

Of those who have received help under the program, Lopez said 1,489 are over age 60.

The program did so well, she told lawmakers, federal officials awarded Nevada an additional $6.9 million under a different program which can be used for such things as solar and photovoltaic systems.

“Great job,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas.

“The goal was 2,000 and you nearly doubled it.”

He said hopefully the program can double the overall goal to 10,000 homes by the time the money is all spent.