Temperatures may have hit record lows but thanks to energy system upgrades made several years ago heat is reliable and cheaper.
Despite the record cold, Chester Housing Authority residents are warmer than ever in their homes this winter and at a lower cost.The reliability and energy efficiency date back to 2007 when the CHA borrowed about $3 million to modernize its heating, electrical, and water systems at its three largest housing developments.CHA now uses hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy savings per year to make payments on a 15-year loan from Susquehanna Bank (The bank won a competitive bidding process to service the loan.)"We all remember prior to 2007 the annual ritual of no heat at the Bennett Homes," said CHA Executive Director Steven A. Fischer. "The heating plant was inefficient and costly. Even with the kind of weather we have endured this year, residents have been kept warm and comfortable, and at a much lower cost." "Further savings have been found through a reduction in maintenance overtime costs," pointed out Norman Wise, CHA Director of Housing Operations. "When the heat goes out someone has to go fix it, and those are repairs we no longer have to send someone out to make."Ultimately the energy upgrades not only benefit residents by providing extremely reliable utility service, but the improvements will also benefit taxpayers because once the 15-year loan is paid off the federal government will provide less money to CHA for energy use. Any time CHA begins a modernization project, energy considerations are paramount. New windows and insulation were added after 2007 in the same communities where a new heating system was installed."HUD deserves credit for supporting energy efficiencies," Fischer said. "Participating in an energy-saving program is not required by them, but they do encourage it. It's up to us to put the time and effort into doing it and doing it right."