Home weatherization programs available

Freedom New Mexico: Argen Duncan Greg Fisher of Portales points to weather stripping workers from Star Efficiency contracting company of Roswell added to a door as part of an Xcel Energy program. New Mexico Xcel customers who have refrigerated air conditioning have access to a program that weatherizes their homes for energy efficiency.

Argen Duncan

Homeowners meeting certain criteria in Roosevelt and Curry counties have opportunities to bring their houses up to code or have them weatherized with programs through Xcel Energy and the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority.

The Mortgage Finance Authority has provided an allocation of about $586,000 to bring at least nine homes in Curry and Roosevelt counties up to code, said authority Deputy Director of Programs Joseph Montoya. Eastern Plains Housing Development Corporation is administering the program and money, which is a federal housing allocation.

“We know right now there’s a huge issue with the (Cannon Air Force) base impacting affordable housing opportunities in Curry and Roosevelt counties, and this is one small way we can help,” Montoya said.

To qualify for the program, people must own their home and make less than 80 percent of the median income.

If they make less than 50 percent of the median income, Montoya said, the work on their homes is paid for as a grant. For people who make between 80 percent and 50 percent of the median income, they must continue to own the house for a specified amount of time, depending on the rehabilitation, or repay the cost.

Montoya said the housing development corporation would assess applicants’ houses to see if they needed rehabilitation. Workers are to handle issues such as leaking roofs, plumbing problems and more, as well as making the home more energy-efficient.

“We bring the whole house up to code,” he said.

Montoya said the allocation would pay up to $65,000 per housing unit.

For weatherization, Xcel is hoping to have the Residential Home Energy Service, which provides modifications to houses for energy efficiency, widely available in the Clovis/Portales area by December, said Xcel spokesman Wes Reeves. Now, residents can work with approved out-of-town contractors.

In the program, contractors evaluate a home and make changes such as adding weather stripping to doors or improving insulation.

Reeves said New Mexico energy rates pay for most of the work, but there may be charges for extra improvements.

Reeves said energy-efficiency improvements benefit all customers by helping lessen peak demand so Xcel doesn’t have to build power plants and bring in new energy. Weatherization can also decrease individual energy bills.

“It’s always something people should be practicing, to alter their lifestyle in some way to maximize their energy dollar,” Reeves said of energy efficiency.

Greg Fisher of Portales said he had his home weatherized through the program. It doesn’t have income requirements, but the house must have refrigerated air conditioning, he said.

Xcel has another program for low-income households, according to its website.

Fisher said contractors took two hours to evaluate and weatherize his house. They told him the improvements cut the amount of air, and therefore warmth or coolness, escaping from his house in half.