December 28, 2001

Partnership With SDG&E Makes New Habitat For Humanity Homes Energy Efficient

Theresa Sison, her two children and her elderly father will enjoy the holidays in a warm, new home, thanks to the San Diego Chapter of Habitat for Humanity and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).

SDG&E worked with the San Diego Habitat for Humanity for more than one year to implement energy-efficiency measures in 12 homes that Habitat is building throughout San Diego County, including the Sison home.

"This time last year, the future was scary," said Sison, a single mother of Michael, 12, and Katey, 8. She also provides a home for her 75-year-old father Alfredo. "I worried about where we were going to live after they raised the rent on our two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. It's hard to believe that one year later, my family and I now live in our own four-bedroom house."

Next Spring, San Diego Habitat volunteers will begin building other ENERGY STAR® qualified homes on lots in Escondido and in National City. ENERGY STAR® is a program of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Energy, wherein appliances, lighting and windows and other products are labeled as energy savers.

"One of our top priorities is making homes energy efficient, which can really help families save money over the homes' lifetime," said Tom Durwood, executive director for San Diego Habitat for Humanity.

"Our partnership with San Diego Habitat For Humanity is particularly rewarding because it helps people realize their dream of home ownership," said Pamela J. Fair, vice president of customer service for SDG&E. "And, one of the concerns of a new homeowner is energy costs. We are pleased to work with this organization to help keep energy and costs down for these families. This program is just one of many that SDG&E has for lower-income families and seniors."

The money SDG&E has earmarked for the Habitat program is California Public Utilities Commission-approved funds, set aside for energy-efficiency home building programs. SDG&E's Home Energy Partnership Program (HEPP) provided financial, design and consulting assistance to upgrade the Sison home and will do the same with the other homes. SDG&E's HEPP works to make sure that the homes meet or exceed federally certified ENERGY STAR® ratings. In fact, all 12 homes that SDG&E is working on will perform 40-percent better than the ENERGY STAR® standards require. The measures, which will vary somewhat from home to home, are: glass and vinyl frames; tankless gas water heaters; insulated hot water piping; testing and sealing of ducts and building envelope; upgrading of attic insulation, compact fluorescent lighting and more.

"I see a difference of my energy bill with all the new appliances in this house and am grateful to SDG&E for helping me save money," Sison said.

The San Diego Habitat for Humanity will sell the remaining new homes they build for about $120,000 each, which is about half the cost of an average resale home in San Diego. Habitat also provides 20-year, zero-interest loans to homeowners. Those homeowners in turn are required to supply," sweat equity" help build the home" and have a good job history, credit and references.

San Diego Habitat for Humanity, Inc. is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a non-profit, ecumenical organization that provides home ownership to low-income families. This affiliate constructs and provides home to low-income families within San Diego County. Habitat for Humanity is committed to the ideal that all people deserve a simple, decent place to live on terms they can afford to pay. With the assistance of many individuals and organizations such as churches, businesses, and student groups, San Diego Habitat has completed 41 homes. It is anticipated that the affiliate will complete at least 8 to 12 homes annually over the next several years. In the summer of 1987, a group of concerned San Diego citizens came together to form this affiliate. The San Diego Habitat for Humanity affiliate was officially approved in October 1987 and was incorporated in California as a non-profit corporation. Our 501(c)(3) exempt status ensures that all donations to the affiliate are tax deductible.

More information about San Diego Habitat for Humanity is available on the organization's Web site, www.habitatsdiego.org.

Energy-related solutions to affordable housing can benefit nonprofit and for-profit builders alike. Customers can find out how by calling SDG&E's HEPP toll-free at 1-877-641-1384. Also, SDG&E customers can get more information on saving energy by calling 1-800-411-SDGE (7343) or by visiting the company's Web site, www.sdge.com.

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