Hillyard resident Gary Nestler will tell you he lives in a cozy home.

It didn’t always used to be that way.

When the Idaho native moved into his humble dwelling on the north side of Spokane, he noticed right away that the walls needed a little reinforcement.

Between chilly drafts in the winter and neighborhood noise seeping in every night, Gary realized that his adopted dwelling did not provide the most insulated setting. As a carpenter, he was even more aware of the need for a number of upgrades.

“The design of this house does not move air very well,” Gary said. “I’d try to block off rooms to keep it warmer.”

gary-nestler-picThe less-than-efficient energy setup was also having an impact on the household power bills. In the winter, it was costing Gary $150 a month to stave off the cold. Then one day he dropped by nearby Northeast Community Center for an energy assistance appointment with SNAP.

“I was talking to someone there and was told SNAP could help with weatherization,” he said. “I hadn’t heard about that before.”

Before long, a SNAP Weatherization crew conducted a survey of Gary’s home. The project would eventually provide wall and attic insulation, moisture barrier in the crawl space, air and duct sealing and a carbon monoxide detector.  The crew also tuned and cleaned the furnace, leaving Gary with a transformed home that would be more comfortable in any season.

“It was summer when they did the work and right away it was a lot cooler in my place,” he said. “Actually, the first thing I noticed was the sound level from outside was cut way down.”

The renovation also had an insulating effect on Gary’s budget. He estimates saving over 30 percent in energy bills in the year after the project was completed.

“I didn’t realize how bad it was leaking,” he said. “The guys were just tremendous, very respectful. They did great work. When winter arrived, the house was way warmer.”

Last year, SNAP weatherized 242 homes for energy efficiency. The program has been a staple of the agency for many years, reducing energy costs for low-income households by increasing energy efficiency and improving health and safety conditions.

Weatherization is offered at no cost to qualifying homeowners and renters. Funding comes from state and federal sources as well as Avista and other contributors such as landlords and SNAP donors.

October is recognized as National Energy Awareness Month and Oct. 30 will be observed as National Weatherization Day. Washington State has expanded its focus on weatherization and environmental health through the reduction of asthma and lead-based materials as part of the Weatherization Plus Health initiative.

SNAP has recently introduced the Healthy Homes initiative, part of the larger Housing Improvements program. Healthy Homes works to improve the indoor air quality of local residences, reducing asthma triggers for children and other vulnerable individuals.

“When you look at programs like Weatherization and Healthy Homes, it’s clear that SNAP is devoted to helping our neighbors stay safe, healthy and secure in their homes,” said SNAP CEO Julie Honekamp. “I’m grateful that we can offer improvements that stabilize the housing market and help residents feel better about where they live.”