City fixes light bill issues after ABC13's report
HOUSTON The Addams Family didn't have to worry much about their light bill in their haunted house. That's because Uncle Fester lived there. Late last summer, we detailed the City of Houston's effort to cut light bills here for folks in need with your tax money. And we questioned why the city was paying so much for light bulbs -- nine bucks a bulb. "No one would pay nine bucks for a $2 light bulb. Nobody. You know that," 13 Undercover's Wayne Dolcefino told Houston outgoing department director Issa Dadoush. "Wayne, again, thank you for that remark," Dadoush responded. We knew because we'd been shopping at Home Depot. You could buy those Energy Star light bulbs for $8 -- four of them in a package. "That's two bucks a bulb," Dolcefino said. Homeowner Jesse Garza got some of those taxpayer light bulbs. "For us, it's nice 'cause the city pays for it," Garza said. "But it's still people paying for it through taxes, so I don't know why they charge so much." From the bills, we could see some contractors were going caulk crazy. And why not? They were getting paid $4 a foot for caulk. "It gives government a bad name because it shows government is not efficient," Houston City Councilman Mike Sullivan said. But this 13 Undercover tale of waste has a less wasteful ending. "Wayne, we want to give credit where credit is due," Dadoush told Dolcefino. "We have found areas that we can do better." Now, we only pay $1.50 for the entire tube of caulk. "That is a big change," Dadoush said. And we are not paying nine bucks a bulb anymore. "The average cost of the light bulb is about $2.95," Dadoush said. Even though we still pay a contractor 30 bucks a house to screw the light bulbs in. "We learned. We learned, and now we have a better contract in place," Dadoush said. The city now has $23 million in stimulus funds to weatherize homes. One-hundred-twenty-seven homes have been done so far, and while some of you may question spending your tax money to screw in other peoples light bulbs, at least we got it cheaper. And Dadoush got a new nickname out of it. "I remember the first night that you aired the story, and I walked into my house and my daughter said, 'Mom, Uncle Fester is here.'" If you qualify, it's not too late to apply for this government money. You can go to http://www.houstontx.gov/reep/index.html to get more information.