Sarah Chatterjee, the new director of energy efficiency services for Austin Energy, presented the utility’s new weatherization programs for low-income customers before the Electric Utility Commission on Jan. 11.
The program is aimed at providing weatherproofing modifications, optimizing energy efficiencies and reducing energy use at little to no cost to customers. The program is available both to owners and renters as long as the homes are valued at less than $300,000 and are under 2,500 square feet.
“When the weatherization program first started, we really only had one measure: attic insulation,” Chatterjee said. “Over the years, as program design has changed, as improvements have been seen and new technology has become available, we have added new measures to the program.”
Such measures include solar screens, AC tuneups, smart thermostat installations, home envelope sealing, energy assessments, Energy Star appliances, and duct sealing and replacements.
Unfortunately, she noted, weatherizations have hit a roadblock with Covid, as Austin Energy has been unable to weatherize home interiors for four months.
“Because of the pandemic, in essence, we had to be out of the market for approximately a third of the year. The middle of March when the shelter-in-place orders were put into effect by the government and city, our programs also had to shut down. In the early days we did not have access to personal protective equipment, which meant our employees weren’t protected, our contractors weren’t protected, and our customers were not protected,” Chatterjee said.