Retiree William M. Williams lives on Susquehanna Street in Homewood, in a three-bedroom house.
“This house gets real cold in the winter,” said Mr. Williams, who retired after working as a maintenance man and ironworker. “You can feel the drafts coming through the doorways. … More than likely, I need some insulation” in the attic, he said.
On this recent June day, there are several people in his home — from the basement to the attic and everywhere in between — testing safety and energy efficiency measures.
County real estate records show the house was built in 1900. Like many older homes in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania, Mr. Williams’ house is considered “leaky” in terms of efficiency.
He invited nonprofit Conservation Consultants Inc., which is working to make home energy efficiency and health improvements in Homewood, to run a set of comprehensive safety and energy checks to see what changes should be made at his home.
Low-income households often have a higher energy burden — meaning they pay a higher percentage of their income toward energy costs compared to higher income households.
They often live in less efficient housing and pay more per square foot on energy costs, according to a 2016 American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy report focused on utility costs in low-income communities.
The same report found a particularly high energy burden for low-income families in Pittsburgh, especially African-American families.