Making less than 150 percent of the poverty level? The federal government has a deal for you!

For the next three years, the Housing Authority of Utah County will be doing its darndest to spend $7.2 million to weatherize houses in the valley. That's more than double the normal amount, thanks to the fed's so-called "stimulus package."

The program provides money to add insulation, tune furnaces and even replace fridges or furnaces -- up to $6,500 per household. And it's not just a cold-weather thing.

"The experience we have is come summertime, people are not thinking about weatherizing their house," said housing authority director Gene Carly.

The waiting list is three months long, but with the additional resources, Carly expects the authority will need to get out the word to make sure all the money is spent.

Homeowners who qualify because of income are also the most in need of weatherization, said energy coordinator Allen Gardner. The homes they live in tend to be much older and run down, being 2-6 times less energy efficient than the average home.

The first thing to do is check for air leaks, Gardner said. That includes windows, doors and plumbing entry points. He said that plugging the holes can save up to 20 percent on a utility bill.

What gets the most requests but makes the least impact is actually replacing the windows. Unless it's single pane aluminum framed, crews won't even look at the option.

Instead they'll turn next to the furnace and the ice box.

"We replace a lot of refrigerators," Gardner said.

Those changes can save another 20 percent on utility costs. For those with low incomes, every little bit helps.

"It makes it a little easier. They don't have to make as a hard a decision on food or whatever," Gardner said.

Those who get help are also educated on how to best keep those utility bills low. Even if you don't qualify for assistance, you can follow these steps to lower you bills:

• Regularly change the furnace filter.

• Use proper thermostat management. Keep use low at night while you sleep.

• Use window coverings to block mid-day sun. Open windows at night after it cools off.

• Using low-flow shower heads not only saves water but can save money because you're heating less water.

• Turn down the water heater to 120 degrees.

For more information about weatherization, call (801) 344-5184.

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