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Multnomah County offering energy-saving home upgrades to low-income households

The county is looking for people to sign up for its weatherization program. Those who qualify may see their utility bill reduced by up to 40%.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Multnomah County is offering free home upgrades to low-income home owners through its weatherization program, which helps make homes safe, warm and comfortable. Officials with the program are looking for more applicants. 

People who qualify may see their utility bill reduced by up to 40%.

The county teams up with local contractors to do the renovation work, which includes insulating attics, floors, and walls, along with repairing heating systems and replacing windows and patio doors. It also includes fixing old plumbing and pipes. The work can take around 45 days to complete depending on the home. 

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Gary Walsworth is a weatherization specialist who said this is a win-win situation for everyone.

"Energy efficiency is the cheapest and quickest way to not only save energy, but to meet all the energy needs that we have and it decreases pollution," Walsworth said.

The county upgrades about 300 homes a year, or 20-30 a month. County officials said more than 25% of American homeowners experience energy burden when a disproportionate amount of household income goes towards paying utility bills. The average low-income home spends around 9% of its income on energy, which is three times as much as higher income homes.

In order to qualify for the program, applicants must have an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, which is around $52,000 a year for a family of four. People who live in an apartment are encouraged to ask their property owner apply. 

Anyone interested in applying can do so on Multnomah County's website or call 503-988-7423.

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