Construction crews work to replace windows at one of the 44 units at the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society’s Columbus Park social housing community, where aging units have seen electricity bills as high as $350 for a month because of poor insulation. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Renovations to save on low-income heating bills

Some units at the Columbus Park social housing in Penticton have seen $350 bills for a month

Baby, it’s cold outside — and for residents of 44 households in the Columbus Park social housing project, that can mean hundreds of dollars for a month of heating.

Some units in the community report bills of up to $350 for a month, with all units using electric heating in aging buildings. To help mitigate that, the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society, which oversees the housing project, is dropping more than half a million dollars to improve insulation.

“It’s wear and weather,” SOSBIS executive director Linda Sankey said, pointing to the edge of a door that appeared cracked and crumbling. “The project was built in 1992, so we’re coming up on … nearly 30 years, 25 years of wear.”

The project, expected to cost just over $500,000 will replace all of the windows and patio doors in the social housing community, which totals 44 units with between six and nine windows each.

Related: Lobbying for retrofit program to help homeowners save money

“We’re doing it specifically for energy and cost savings for the occupants who are responsible to pay their own utility costs here,” Sankey said.

“We found during the three years that we’ve owned the project there are significant electricity bills that the tenants are paying, so we’re doing our best to try to offset those costs for them.”

A $350 electricity bill for one unit in a month is close to what some of the tenants pay for rent, which makes the affordable housing “seem less affordable,” Sankey said.

“The project is for people on low incomes, so generally a family is earning less than $25,000 a year to be considered to get in, so that is a significant hit on their monthly budget if they have to pay that kind of utility cost,” Sankey said.

“We were finding out because people were having a difficult time making their rent, even being an affordable rent such as these, and then when you find out the reason behind that, it’s the utility costs, it’s like ‘OK, well let’s see what we can do about that.’”

Related: SOSBIS new owner of low-income housing

Sankey said the organization got some windows that would help keep the warm air in during the winter season and keep the hot air out during the summer, on advice from FortisBC, adding that SOSBIS is taking advantage of the energy company’s rebate program for renovations to save energy.

Sankey said it’s hard to say at this point how much the renovations would hopefully cut on electricity bills, but said they will be monitoring it.

“We’ve asked if we can have some tenants to volunteer for us to be able to have a look and compare the difference in their bills from before to what the new bill will be after the (renovations), from the same time last year.

“We had a pretty cold winter last January, too, so we’re thinking it’s going to be good to compare to this year to see what the difference is.”

Related: New fridges for old at Columbus Park

The organization replaced all of the roofs in the community in 2015, and in 2016 they replaced kitchen countertops and flooring on the main floor, with some work also being done more slowly on other areas of the house, including gradual replacement of kitchen cabinets.

Window and door replacements began late last year and are expected to run through the month.


@dustinrgodfrey

dustin.godfrey@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Spending Christmas in Norway

Rotary exchange student Lars Silseth discusses the holiday traditions in his country

Powder report: Rain in valley, snow on the ski hills

Get your ski gear ready as area mountains are ready for you to enjoy all the Interior winter has to offer this season.

Busy day for Penticton Search and Rescue

PENSAR was called to three separate incidents Sunday, Dec. 16

RCMP recruits help Cram the Kennel in Penticton

Event held for BCSPCA South Okanagan-Similkameen

‘Tis the season to deck the halls and stock the fridge

Local beverage-makers help bring cheer to holiday gatherings

Your morning news in 90: Dec. 17, 2018

Tune in for 90 seconds to get the top headlines for the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

‘Recall fatigue’: Canadians may avoid certain foods over holidays

In the winter, Canada’s supply of fresh fruit and vegetables tends to come from very specific areas.

Shuswap business to provide fresh greens year round

Salmon Arm growers offer hydroponic test market to help develop signature salad mix

Interior Health offers new info tool for pregnant women

Moms-to-be with uncomplicated pregnancies can access tips by text or online

Shuswap farm market owner picks up oranges in California

Brad DeMille travels to U.S. to bring another 8,000 pounds of satsumas from family farm

Ryan Reynolds to narrate movie about B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest

Vancouver-born actor known for Deadpool movies will voice film to be released Feb. 15, 2019

Airline passengers could get up to $2,400 for delays, damaged bags: Canadian agency

Canadian Transportation Agency is releasing draft regulations for public feedback

Top of mind: ‘Justice’ is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year

Merriam-Webster has chosen “justice” as its 2018 word of the year, driven by the churning news cycle and President Trump’s Twitter feed.

‘Spider-Verse’ swings to the top; ‘Mortal Engines’ tanks

“Spider-Verse” has been very well-received among critics, and audiences in exit surveys gave it a rare A+ CinemaScore.

Most Read