Seniors Beat the Heat Affordably

Erickson Golden Manor is more than simply an apartment building in Creston for low-income seniors. It’s a home, where residents frequently visit each others’ rooms or gather in the social room to play cards or work…

3 minute read

Erickson Golden Manor is more than simply an apartment building in Creston for low-income seniors. It’s a home, where residents frequently visit each others’ rooms or gather in the social room to play cards or work on a jigsaw puzzle.

And for the first summer in years, it’s quiet. In the past, the building has been a noisy place on hot days—particularly during the 2017 heat wave—because the old air conditioners droned and rattled as they strained to cool the air.

Not so any longer. A grant from the Trust’s Energy Retrofit Program made some significant upgrades possible. This included replacing the 25-year-old “window shaker” units in each apartment with heat pumps, which can both heat and cool the air—an alternative that is expected to help tenants save on their utility bills.

“Honestly, those window shakers just didn’t cut it,” says Irene Walker, Chair of the Erickson Golden Agers Association, which operates the building.

“Our tenants were suffering from the heat. This summer, they welcomed the heat. It was a totally different summer for them.”

Climate control will be easier in the winter, too, with those same efficient heat pumps replacing the baseboard heaters in each apartment’s living room, which will reduce utility bills and increase comfort.

“What a blessing for them,” says Walker. “If they want heat, all they have to do is go to the unit on the wall and they’ve got heat coming in.”

Making a difference

“This program absolutely fit the needs of what we required to update our facility,” says Walker.
Built by BC Housing in 1986, Erickson Golden Manor eventually came under the ownership and operation of the Erickson Golden Agers. Previous upgrades included replacing the roof, windows, toilets and fridges, and reinsulating the attic, but several upgrades were needed to improve energy efficiency and the well-being of residents.

The Energy Retrofit Program came to the association’s aid. In addition to the individual apartments’ heat pumps, it enabled the installation of new lighting and emergency exit signage for the hallways and social room, a new hot water boiler, and a new heat pump and air handler for the building’s hallways. These upgrades improve the energy efficiency and sustainability of the building, and tenants’ comfort levels.

A new boiler also means they can enjoy consistent access to hot water. “The boiler was very touchy,” says Walker. “It was on its last legs because it was servicing 12 apartments and the social room, and we have a washer and dryer on both floors.”

The changes to the building have been welcomed by the tenants.

“Thanks to this grant from the Trust, the quality of life of the tenants in Erickson Golden Manor has improved 100 per cent,” says Walker. “We are reducing our energy consumption and saving money. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

A boost to comfort and cost

The Trust’s Energy Retrofit Program started in 2017, helping ensure that existing affordable housing units in the Basin are maintained, cost-effective, energy-efficient and comfortable for residents. In two years, over $2.5 million has helped affordable housing organizations in the Basin complete energy retrofits like installing new boilers, insulating attics and upgrading lighting. In total, upgrades will occur in 935 units in 47 buildings.

Affordable housing is one of the Trust’s strategic priorities, and it works with communities and groups to help ensure Basin residents have access to affordable housing that meets their basic needs. Among other tools, the Trust has helped community groups develop plans for affordable housing and provided grants to help projects get built—supporting over 690 new units since 2009.

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