HON’s Home Energy Savings Program in Action: Chestnut Hill

Rising energy costs and utility bills have become a growing concern for just about every American in recent years, but for homeowners in many low-income areas, the problem is even more acute. This is particularly true in Middle Tennessee and Davidson County.

One Nashville neighborhood where this has become a real challenge for low-income homeowners is Chestnut Hill, a small and diverse community just south of downtown Nashville. Chestnut Hill boasts many homes that date as far back as the 1930s, most of which have never had any weatherization or efficiency upgrades. Metro Council District 17, where Chestnut Hill is located, also has the lowest median household income in Davidson County, making the prospect of skyrocketing utility costs even more worrisome for residents there.

Channeling and implementing the expertise it has cultivated since its inception in early 2011, our amazing Home Energy Savings (HES) program team and dedicated volunteers are working with community partners, including Mayor Dean’s Impact Nashville Initiative, to help ease the burden of utility costs for low-income homeowners in Chestnut Hill.

We would like to introduce you to one particular homeowner we had the pleasure of working with this past April, Ms. Starnes:

Mayor Dean checks in on the work being done at the home of Ms. Starnes.
Mayor Dean checks in on the work being done at the home of Ms. Starnes.

She lives in a small, neatly kept home on a quiet street. Family photographs and marathon finisher medals adorn the walls, and a bedroom is set up for her grandson, who often spends the night with her.

Because of serious health problems, Ms. Starnes is no longer able to participate in marathons. But she was thrilled to be able to show off her medals to Mayor Dean when he stopped by the project to say “thank you” to volunteers!

While volunteers busily worked on her home, installing insulation, adding weather stripping to doors and windows, sealing up cracks, and more, Ms. Starnes looked on with a smile of gratitude on her face.

Volunteers building a new garden for Ms. Starnes
Volunteers building a new garden for Ms. Starnes

“What a blessing these volunteers are to me,” she said over and over. She was especially thankful for the raised-bed garden that volunteers built in her backyard, and talked about how her grandson couldn’t wait to grow broccoli there.

Fast-forward two months later, and you can already see the delicious vegetables growing in Ms. Starnes’ garden!

As a result of HES volunteers’ work at her home, Ms. Starnes will save hundreds of dollars in utility bills each year that she can now put toward her healthcare. Now that the heat of summer is really here, she is also enjoying a much more comfortable home. And as part of her daily physical activity, she’s gardening and enjoying quality time with her grandson too.

Ms. Starnes proudly showing off her new garden.
Ms. Starnes proudly showing off her new garden.

Ms. Starnes is one of more than 200 homeowners that have benefited from the Home Energy Savings program since 2011.

With the generous investments of the following house sponsors, Hands On Nashville is completing 63 Home Energy Saving Projects in 2013. They include: Cities of Service, Corporation for National and Community Service, CSX Corporation, Ingram Industries, Inc., LetterLogic, The Melkus Family Foundation, The HCA Foundation, The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Nashville Energy Works, The T&T Family Foundation, Urban Land Institute, and Village Real Estate Advised Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

Caulking is just one of many improvements the HES team makes to homes in Chestnut Hill.
Caulking is just one of many improvements HES volunteers make to homes in Chestnut Hill.

Our work in Chestnut Hill will continue throughout 2013 and we are always on the lookout for more volunteers to donate their time to this and other important HES projects throughout Nashville. An ideal fit for both individuals and groups of up to 10, no experience is needed and our HES leaders will guide you through every step of the process. As an added bonus, volunteers working on these projects learn valuable energy-saving tips that they can take with them and implement in their own homes!

Click here to learn more about HES volunteer opportunities and sign up!

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