Tune-up program helps lower-income homeowners prepare for winter

Kevin Poproski takes a carbon monoxide reading while conducting a furnace tune-up on Oct. 25 in Prince Albert. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Thanks to a partnership between SaskEnergy and SaskEnergy Network Members, over 400 low-income homeowners from 31 communities can feel confident their furnace is ready for the winter.

The third annual Tune-Up Assistance program is offering low-income families a free, hands-on examination of their home heating equipment.

Local homeowner Ben Amonson is one of the 70 Prince Albert and area residents chosen to participate this year. Friday morning, technician Kevin Paproski of Mr. plumber gave his furnace the once-over, checking the filter and vacuuming inside.

Amonson was quick to point out the benefits of the program.

Kevin Paproski examines a pair of new filters while tuning up a furnace in Prince Albert on Oct. 25, 2019. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “To hear that partner companies (are) working with SaskEnergy to make sure that low-income earners such as myself are able to have their furnaces maintained and tuned up before the winter is very important. It’ll hel[ a lot of people.”

Ensuring your furnace works well could save you a lot of other costs down the road, Amonson said.

“If you lose your heat and can’t afford to get it fixed right away, eventually your water lines are going to freeze and burst, and you’re going to have more and most cost. This is an imperative program to help a lot of people that have budgetary limitations. I think it’s something people should take advantage of and sign up as soon as they can.”

According to SaskEnergy, 653 applications were received from 82 different communities. Communities were selected based on the location of SaskEnergy Network Members who provide the heating tune-up service. The program reached capacity, so homeowners were selected based on meeting eligibility requirements and on a first-come, first-served basis.   Each participant also received a carbon monoxide natural gas detector to help keep them safe.

Amonson already had one.

“We have a beeper up top there to monitor for that, but a lot of people don’t think about that either,” he said.

“There are stories out there, true stories of people who have died from carbon monoxide poisoning because they have not kept their furnaces and indoor heating up to date. This is a program, I think, that could save a lot.”

Kevin Paproski works on Ben Amonson’s furnace on Oct. 25 in Prince Albert as part of SaskEnergy’s Tune-Up Assistance Program. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

According to SaskEnergy, the Tune-Up Assistance program “highlights the importance of annual maintenance on natural gas home heating systems and carbon monoxide detection” and “serves as a reminder to Saskatchewan homeowners the importance of furnace maintenance including cleaning or replacing your furnace filters every one to two months during the winter season.”

SaskEnergy said maintaining heating equipment and scheduling an annual tune-up helps to reduce the chances of future expensive repairs, higher energy bills, poor air quality or losing service in the winter.

Prince Albert had the third-highest number of participants with 70. Regina had 114 and Saskatoon 108. Other communities include Nipawin, Battleford and Wakaw. Applications are accepted during the early summer months.

For more information, visit https://www.saskenergy.com/community/SEintheCommunity/tuneupassistance.asp