Make us your home page
Instagram

Tampa Electric rolls out new program for weatherizing low income homes

Keith Smith, left, and Jorge Quintanilla weatherize the Sulphur Springs home of Carolyn Howell, 83, and her daughter Erika Hampton, 51, on Tuesday. It’s one of the first free weatherization packages for low-income homeowners from Tampa Electric.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Keith Smith, left, and Jorge Quintanilla weatherize the Sulphur Springs home of Carolyn Howell, 83, and her daughter Erika Hampton, 51, on Tuesday. It’s one of the first free weatherization packages for low-income homeowners from Tampa Electric.

A little army arrived at 83-year-old Carolyn Howell's Tampa home, and she got a bit worried.

With her heart condition and lungs that function at 25 percent, she wasn't in the mood for foolishness.

Sitting at her kitchen table, the frail but feisty gray-haired woman watched as the men ran a giant tube into her attic, toted a cover to wrap her water heater and nailed rubber strips around her doors.

"If there's any cost, then you're out of luck," Howell shouts at the workers. "Everybody's always got their hand out, asking for something."

But this $700 worth of work won't cost her a penny. She's one of the first to receive a free weatherization package for low-income homeowners from Tampa Electric, part of an expansion of the utility's energy-efficiency programs.

For the new program, Tampa Electric, a subsidiary of TECO Energy, is targeting low-income homeowners in the Sulphur Springs and Tampa Heights communities. The weatherization program is expected to save the average customer about $100 a year.

Progress Energy and other utilities across the state run similar programs to help conserve energy. All customers can receive a free home energy audit to check for areas where they can save energy.

The state requires utilities to set goals for energy conservation. A portion of customers' bills helps pay for the programs, but the utilities note that the programs help everyone.

"All of our customers benefit, if we can delay building new power plants," said Cherie Jacobs, a TECO spokeswoman.

Environmentalists tout such programs as the key to combating rising energy costs at a time when utility companies are pushing construction and expansion of multibillion-dollar nuclear plants as well as natural gas plants that can carry volatile fuel prices.

Energy efficiency can include programs such as weatherization, use of solar water heaters and refrigerator buybacks.

A 2011 study by Synapse Energy Economics, a research and consulting firm, stated that a comprehensive energy-efficiency program could reduce Florida's projected future electricity use by almost 20 percent. Establishing a widespread efficiency program would cost less than a quarter of the price of a new nuclear plant, according to the study.

"Energy efficiency is the quintessential low-hanging fruit," said Susan Glickman, a lobbyist for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a group that promotes energy efficiency.

Homeowners who do not qualify for the low-income weatherization program could hire someone for about $700 or do it themselves for much less. Utilities sometimes offer rebates and incentives if customers get the free home energy check.

Alternative Energy Applications workers examined Howell's air conditioner, installed florescent lightbulbs, replaced shower heads, checked windows and doors for caulking and weather stripping, and pumped insulation into her attic.

The three-bedroom, one-bathroom frame house in the Sulphur Springs neighborhood of Tampa, just off Interstate 275, had long needed upgrading.

Finances are tight for Howell, who lives on a fixed income of $1,166 a month while paying $322 a month on her electric bill.

Howell was happy for the help.

"Much of the time over the years," Howell said, as tears welled up in her eyes, "we have always done for other people."

Ivan Penn can be reached at ipenn@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2332.

Tampa Electric rolls out new program for weatherizing low income homes 06/19/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 9:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Starbucks to close all Teavana locations, including five in Tampa Bay

    Retail

    Local Teavana locations include Tyrone Square in St. Petersburg, International Plaza and Westfield Citrus Park in Tampa, Brandon and Clearwater.

    Starbucks announced Thursday plans to shut down all 379 Teavana stores, citing "underperformance." Starbucks acquired the mall-based tea chain for $620 million in 2012. [ CANDICE CHOI | AP file photo]
  2. Trigaux: Closing Iron Yard coding school hits area tech hard but leaders talk of options

    Business

    The coming shutdown this fall of the Iron Yard software coding school in downtown St. Petersburg — announced this month as part of a national closing of all 15 Iron Yard locations — remains a shocking event to a Tampa Bay technology community that dreams big of becoming a major player in the Southeast if not …

    In better days last fall, friends and family of graduates at The Iron Yard, based in the Station House in downtown St. Petersburg, applaud during "Demo Day" when grads of the coding school show off their skills. Despite the local success and strong job placement by the coding school, The Iron Yard is closing all of its 15 locations across the country this summer. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. U.S. economy gathers steam in second quarter

    Business

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy revved up this spring after a weak start to the year, fueled by strong consumer spending. But the growth spurt still fell short of the optimistic goals President Donald Trump hopes to achieve through tax cuts and regulatory relief.

    A government report released Friday showed economic output picked up in the second quarter. 
[Associated Press file photo]
  4. Founder of Tampa home sharing platform questions Airbnb, NAACP partnership

    Business

    TAMPA — A Tampa rival to Airbnb, which was launched because of discrimination complaints on the dominant home sharing platform, has concerns about the new partnership between Airbnb and NAACP announced this week.

    Rohan Gilkes poses for a portrait at his home and business headquarters in Tampa. 

Innclusive, a Tampa-based start-up, is a home-sharing platform that focuses on providing a positive traveling experience for minorities. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  5. Appointments at Port Tampa Bay and Tampa General Medical Group highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Government

    Port Tampa Bay announced that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. Sowell, a former member of the U.S.Marine Corps, will support internal, external and special projects, assist the executive team with management oversight and serve as a liaison on a variety of port …

    Port Tampa Bay announced this week that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. [Handout photo]