$170 million dollars in federal stimulus money is being spent in Florida to increase the energy efficiency of low-income homes. In addition to lowering electric bills, the money is also creating jobs.
Every county in Florida is receiving federal stimulus cash to weatherize low-income homes. The process includes depressurizing homes with a high power fan to find air leaks, like the air flowing out of a wall switch. This fix is better insulation. Contractor Rick Dollar says the better insulation can mean big savings.
"It will save them anywhere from twenty to fifty percent on their electric bill," said Dollar.
The cost to weatherize depends on the need. It usually costs between $1,500 and $5,000 dollars. Tens of thousands of homes have already been retrofitted. Russell Davis' apartment has just been renovated and he's optomistic.
"It's going to help me with my light bill. I don't get a whole lot of money every month, you know. I get SSI. So it's going to really benefit me a whole lot," he said.
For air conditioner contractor Rick Howard, the stimulus cash means one thing.
"It means employment" said Howard. "It means continued employment for some, added employment for some others."
How many jobs is unclear, but everyone who has been put back to work is thankful.
Weatherization coordinator Thomas Stauffcher says sometimes making homes more efficient is as simple as changing a light bulb.
More than 350,000 Florida homes will be weatherized by the time the program ends next February. The hope behind the program is that tenants will use their utility savings to buy other items in their communities, stimulating the economy and creating jobs.