COLUMBIA — When the weather is coldest outside, it can get pretty hot inside Paquin Tower.
The Columbia Housing Authority, which has operated the building since 1973, has been awarded $1.8 million in stimulus funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to make energy saving improvements to Paquin Tower.
The improvements are intended to fix an aging heating system that causes problems for residents on upper levels of the 15-story building, which has a total of 200 apartments. The building primarily serves people with disabilities.
"Residents are unable to control the heat in their rooms other than opening windows when it gets too warm," housing authority CEO Phil Steinhaus said in a news release. "This often causes a chimney effect in the building during winter months with residents opening windows on the upper floors due to overly warm temperatures. This results in cold air being drawn up through the floors below and increased energy costs."
T.L. Pratt has lived in Paquin Tower for 10 years, and he said his 14th-floor apartment can get pretty toasty.
"During the winter sometimes I've got both windows open, both fans going and short pants on," Pratt said.
Peggy Byland, who also lives on the 14th floor, has experienced problems as well.
"Half the time I keep the radiator off during the winter unless it gets below zero," Byland said.
Steinhaus said in the release that major parts of the energy-saving project include replacing boilers, boiling pipes and air-cooled condensing units, as well as upgrading the ventilation system and first-floor heating ventilation and cooling.
Steinhaus estimated the building will save 42 percent of its heating costs through the project. He was unavailable Thursday to say how much money that might be.
"These improvements will greatly increase the quality of life for residents of Paquin Tower and greatly extend the life of the building," Steinhaus said in the release. "Our aging boilers and system of pipes and radiators constantly need repair and are not very energy efficient."
Steinhaus also said the work would contribute to the the city's efforts to decrease its overall energy demand, and the grant requires that green building practices be adopted. The practices will be in accordance with the Green Communities Criteria.