The comfort of a cozy home is not something Missouri residents take for granted in the winter. But even in the best of times, routine maintenance and upgrades to furnaces are not at the top of families’ to-do lists—and 2020 was definitely not the best of times.
In a normal year, the CommunitySavers® Programs from Ameren Missouri help customers across St. Louis prepare for winter by offering no-cost assessments. The programs recruit property owners, community managers, and income-eligible customers to receive energy-saving products for their homes and rebates when they make energy-efficient upgrades.
This year, Ameren Missouri couldn’t do assessments in individual homes. Instead, the utility company partnered with Beyond Housing to invest in its rental homes in North St. Louis County, providing more than $600,000 of in-kind donations and labor to hundreds of properties.
“Ameren Missouri is intentional about these projects, and this allowed us to help customers in an area where we have recognized there is a high need,” said CommunitySavers® Program Manager Wanda Sams. “The impact of projects like this one is huge, and it makes a big difference in the day-to-day lives of our customers. These energy-efficient upgrades improve customer homes, help to educate families about energy efficiency, and help our customers save money on their energy statements.”
All of Beyond Housing’s 405 rental homes received furnace tune-ups, with an estimated value of $300 per home, and new $3,500 HVAC units were installed in 10 vacant homes prior to families moving in.
Additionally, 92 properties received $500 in furnace repairs—including furnace heat exchangers and blower motors—as well as new 3-ton, high-efficiency air conditioners and coils so they’re ready when summer finally returns. As a further energy-saving measure, crews also installed Ecobee Tstat smart thermostats.
Because the residents had to relocate briefly due to COVID-19 safety protocols while the work was being done, each household received a $100 gift card to cover expenses.
Ameren Missouri’s CommunitySavers® Programs’ in-kind donation to Beyond Housing totaled more than $400,000. When labor and other expenses are added in, the value was $604,354.
Beyond Housing’s President and CEO Chris Krehmeyer applauded the work of Maintenance Superintendent Justin Waller and Senior Director of Housing Cory Dickens, both of whom were instrumental in the partnership’s success.
“The way we come to the work, build trusting relationships, and respect those we serve is key to ongoing partnerships like this one,” he said. “We have a reputation for our stick-to-it-iveness. We weather the storms and continue to be here for families.”
Environmental consulting company Resource Innovations, a diverse contractor, implemented the program. Waller credited their staff with getting everything lined up and scheduled—with special props to Nicole Sage, who hosted the meeting where the Beyond Housing and Ameren first connected, and to data analyst Cailynn Ponciroli, who was a big part of ensuring the work progressed smoothly.
The final repairs and upgrades were completed by Anton’s Heating and Cooling in December—just as temperatures were getting colder and furnaces were cranking up.
“Ameren Missouri’s CommunitySavers® Program ensures customers receive the benefits of energy-efficient equipment and reduces the energy burden on customers who also struggle with financial security,” Sams said. “Beyond Housing has been a phenomenal partner, and we look forward to continuing this partnership in the future.”