HEAT Squad expanding to Hazard, Kentucky!

HEAT Squad expanding to Hazard, Kentucky

The HEAT Squad, affordable energy efficiency program, expands to Hazard, Kentucky!

The Housing Development Alliance, Inc. of Hazard, Kentucky, with the help of its umbrella organization,  FAHE, a non-profit NeighborWorks Organization dedicated to eliminating persistent poverty in Appalachia, will launch the first satellite HEAT Squad program!

The expansion of the affordable energy efficiency program, has been in the works for some time now and, in the last year, Melanie Paskevich, program director, and her team has been working to train staff members in the new program.

The Hazard, KY program has a goal of completing 20 home energy retrofits by the end of August and they have a large percentage already in the pipeline! The expansion was made possible through a grant from NeighborWorks America for the development of a pilot HEAT Squad program.

Commitment to the HEAT Squad Mission and Approach:

The Housing Development Alliance, Inc. had been championing and supporting energy efficiency with the construction of ENERGY STAR homes for some years, but this will be the first time they are offering energy audits and audit reports detailing energy efficiency recommendations.

HDA of Kentucky is working diligently to educate the public about the advantages of getting an energy audit and investing in energy upgrades. Taking lessons from the development of NeighborWorks of Western Vermont’s HEAT Squad program to heart, the Housing Development Alliance, Inc. is busy educating staff and board members, attending meetings of local civic organizations, such as rotary clubs, and generally working to increase word-of-mouth about its new program.

Affordable one Stop Shop:

Audits will start at the low cost of $100 for the Hazard, KY community and may be free for income eligible customers. In a region historically plagued by a lack of affordable financing, clients will now have access to attractive energy loan options.

The Housing Development Alliance, Inc. will be able to complete most projects through their in-house construction team and will use sub-contractors for foam insulation application and heating system installations. John Bush, former Rehabilitation Specialist at the Housing Development Alliance, Inc. will be heading up the program.

A community in need:

With a struggling economy, high rates of poverty and unemployment, and low incomes, this Appalachian community is desperately in need of durable, sustainable, and cost-efficient home upgrades.

While the team in Kentucky is motivated to help low income residents, who are urgently in need of reducing their heating and cooling costs, they are also keen to expand the program to middle and higher income homeowners. As coal-mining and coal-fired power plants continue to be phased out in Appalachia and neighboring communities, electrical costs are expected to increase tremendously!

And given that residents have come to rely on electricity for home heating as a result of the cheap cost of coal, it will be imperative for both homeowners and landlords to reduce the energy load of their homes. Additionally, the Housing Development Alliance, Inc. is encouraged by HEAT Squad’s success in building up the energy efficiency industry in our Vermont Service territory- contractors earned a combined $7 million in the 4 years following the launch of the program- and is hoping to see similar job growth in Kentucky.

Here’s to a robust launch in a high-need community!