In addition to donating $300,000 to fund the program, Exelon is providing technical expertise and will donate an estimated 7,000 Exelon employee volunteer hours for the program. Over the next 10 months, Habitat and Exelon will design the projects and develop training programs for volunteers and Habitat partner families across Exelon’s service territories of northern Illinois, southeastern Pennsylvania and Texas.

Weatherization projects will cost $2,000 to $8,000 per home and include improvements such as weather stripping, caulking, adding or replacing door seals, installing water-saving toilets, replacing showerheads, replacing water heaters and furnace filters, installing CFL bulbs, and insulating attics, basements and outer walls. The advisory committee for the program, which includes representatives from Exelon, Habitat and the Dow Chemical Co., estimates that participating homeowners could save between 12% and 25% on their utility bills.

“This partnership allows us to make houses more sustainable through energy efficiency,” said Mark Andrews, senior director of US programs at Habitat. “Through our work with Exelon, we have identified affordable, sustainable improvements that homeowners can make today to use less energy.”

“Exelon is committed to helping customers and communities reduce their carbon footprints and energy costs through easy, low-cost solutions,” said Joseph Dominguez, Exelon senior vice president of corporate communications and public affairs. “Our partnership with Habitat for Humanity supports both Habitat’s mission of affordable home ownership and Exelon’s plan to eliminate the equivalent of our carbon footprint by 2020.”

Of the more than 70 projects, 35 to 40 projects will be in northern Illinois, about 30 will be in southeastern Pennsylvania, and five will be in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Homeowners will be identified by participating Habitat affiliates and must demonstrate need and a willingness to partner with Habitat as well as invest sweat equity hours to qualify for the program. Exelon and Habitat for Humanity International intend for the program to serve as a model for similar programs in other US cities starting in 2010.

Frank and Tina Alston are the homeowners of the Chicago Heights house where Exelon and Habitat kicked off the program.

“We are thankful to have had a Habitat home in which to raise our family,” said Frank Alston, “and with these new weatherization home improvements, we look forward to using less energy, doing our part to improve the environment, and lowering our utility bills.”

Exelon is also providing Habitat partner families with existing no-cost and low-cost energy efficiency programs available to customers of Exelon’s energy delivery companies, ComEd in northern Illinois and PECO in southeastern Pennsylvania. These programs focus on helping customers manage and reduce their energy costs.

Exelon’s partnership with Habitat also encompassed the build of an energy-efficient home in Waukegan, Ill., in July 2009. Exelon employee volunteers and Habitat’s Lake County affiliate constructed what will be the first Habitat house in Illinois to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U.S Green Building Council.

For Exelon, this program supports Exelon 2020, the company’s strategy to reduce, offset or displace more than 15 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year by 2020. Energy efficiency is widely viewed as one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as demonstrated by the $5 billion allocated for low-income weatherization programs under the federal stimulus package.

The Dow Chemical Co. and Whirlpool Corp. also are supporting the weatherization program. Dow will donate insulation, volunteer labor and expertise, and Whirlpool will donate energy-efficient appliances for the projects.