By Kathryn Arbour
Old houses usually run very inefficiently, especially if their owners do not have sufficient funds to make needed upgrades. Of course, everyone can pay attention to the length of showers, to drippy and running faucets, to leaky toilets. What we see every day of the week, though, are folks who struggle to get through the day on their small resources. If something needs fixing, it has to get in line with the hungry mouths to feed, grandpa’s prescriptions, and the electric bill. So, as a matter of course, RTMD does a water audit as part of our assessment of homes in our queue.
We observe where there are leaks, or may have been leaks in the past. We take note of the age and condition of the water heater. We also provide educational material for homeowners to learn more about conserving water and energy in general. The average utility costs for our typical homeowners in need represent about 14% of their small incomes. For others not living on low incomes, the rate is typically 2% – 3%! Any savings we can help these folks attain represents real dollars that can be used to provide food, medicine and other necessities.
Once an application is approved, including the home preview noted above, and funding is secured, we organize a team of volunteers, add a skilled person or two to the mix, and get going on repairs. Replacing toilets with high efficiency units, adding faucet aerators to moderate the flow of water, repairing leaks throughout the home, and wrapping or replacing a water heater have become nearly standard practice for RTMD, given the age of the majority of homes we work on.
We recently calculated that over the past year our work has generated a 15% energy savings overall, translating into roughly $179/homeowner services. A significant portion of our work included the water conservation measures noted above.
Learn more about easy things to do to save water. Visit RTMD to learn how to qualify for our assistance, how to donate to ensure our good work continues, and how to volunteer. We offer training classes at no cost for anyone who wants to learn more about basic home repairs and is willing to volunteer once you feel comfortable taking on a new skill.