By Don Ames, www.detectenergy.com
I receive calls on a regular bases asking me about help fixing the problem of being cold and whether or not I have heard of any Weatherization Assistance Programs. These calls are not about being cold for a day - while the furnace is fixed - or being cold for a week - while a few more dollars are scraped together to have the propane tank filled - this is about being cold all winter, you know, for months.
People are looking for a weatherization assistance program, but don't know where to look and are not sure if one even exists.
The calls are about an older home and about a long time between an appropriate job. When families make the choice between food and heat, it's usually food that wins out. When I receive a call about cold, I know it originates from one of three areas in town. These are areas that have brand new homes and the most popular housing development in town - back in the 1950's. Calls about cold come from planned unit developments, the latest house designs, the newest innovations, and the most modern appliances available, back in the 1960's.
How do you keep warm when you're work hours are cut back from 40 hours a week to 16. How can anyone be expected to keep the furnace running day and night when the manager says, "Oh, I guess I forgot to put you on the schedule for more hours, I'll fix it next week."
One thing I've noticed in my role of trying to warm up homes is the number of pitiful jobs that people get stuck in. Can't afford the job, but can't afford to quit. Businesses that require a workforce too often take advantage of the part time employee.
If the caller says they are always cold and their heating bill is still $300, I know they don't live up on the hill and pay $12,000 in property taxes. They live down by the center of town, near the river, in a home that has very little insulation, single pane windows, and a furnace that produces more Carbon monoxide than BTU's. Cold is no fun, a major part of the solution is weatherization, and weatherization is sometimes just a phone call away.
Here where I live, if you qualify as low income, you can call a CAP agency for free weatherization help. I have heard that in some parts of the country you would contact the local WAP agency. In other States you would call the NLIW, the UWAP or the WAA. I know, it's all a little confusing. If you want to know about free weatherization, contact your electric or gas company and ask them about the weatherization program for the low income in your area - they will know the number.
The weatherization program will probably make you think your signing up to receive a kidney or an artificial arm or something. Be patient with the program and the paperwork, remember, the program has it's roots in the Federal Government so paperwork is the norm. There is only so much money to spend every year, so the waiting list may mean that you will feel warmer next winter, but not necessarily this winter.
After the Gestapo registration period, you will be placed on a waiting list. Go ahead and tell the agency if you have an emergency situation in the home. Maybe Grandma has come to live with you and she has a heart condition or your niece just moved in with a newborn. There is a chance that your name can be moved up on the waiting list if you really have a special need.
Next, the agency will send out a highly trained home energy auditor to evaluate your home for appropriate, energy saving measures. And, no, I'm not kidding here, the person will know what their doing. The energy auditor can smell a cold air leak a mile away. They can measure roof insulation by wiggling into the tightest attic opening and they can tell you if your refrigerator is energy efficient or if it is an energy disgrace.
After the energy audit, a list of cost-effective, energy saving measures will be developed and presented to you for your approval. Once the list is approved, the work will be scheduled, undertaken, and completed.
With new knee deep insulation in the attic, air sealing, heating duct replacement, a new energy efficient furnace, efficient light bulbs and a new refrigerator, the old home from the 1960's will be feeling a whole lot warmer. The cold air outside will stay outside and the warm inside air will stay inside.
Let's take a closer look at a State Weatherization Assistance Program. I choose Kansas, kind of in the middle of the country and a State the really knows how to save energy. The following is from the Kansas Weatherization website, ( go there now ).
The Kansas Weatherization Assistance Program (K-WAP) operates year round and is an energy conservation program that helps qualified households pay for home weatherization needs. Stop getting zapped by those high-energy bills. Take steps toward conserving energy and lowering utility bills by applying for weatherization today.
The elderly, disabled, or those with at least one child in the home are identified as a special population which deems them a priority when a waiting list for services develops. Emergency situations also receive priority (e.g., furnace tests positive for carbon monoxide).
General Program Requirements:
In order to qualify for this benefit program, you must be a resident of the state of Kansas, your household's annual income before taxes must not exceed $27,247 if one person lives in the household; $35,630 if two people live in the household; $44,014 if three people live in the household; $52,397 if four people live in the household; $60,781 if five people live in the household; $69,164 if six people live in the household; $70,736 if seven people live in the household; and $74,020 if eight people live in the household. For larger households, add $7,480 for each additional person in the home.
Your Next Steps:
Application Process can be started by calling the toll-free Housing Information Line for an application or additional information: 1-800-752-4422.
The Weatherization Assistance Program, administered by the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation and funded annually by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, is now available through Interfaith Housing Services, Inc. to twenty-five counties in Southwestern Kansas.
This is the nation’s largest residential energy efficiency program improving heating efficiency and fuel savings by ensuring that homes hold in heat and air-conditioning while keeping out hot and cold air. The program, available at no charge to income eligible families, increases the comfort of a home, saves money, reduces dependence on foreign oil, preserves housing stock and provides safe, affordable housing.
Weatherization repairs available for both homeowners and renters may include:
Installation of weatherstripping and caulking around doors and windows cleaning, testing, repairing or replacing of heating systems insulating walls, ceilings and foundations for infiltration reduction.
Kansas Counties served:Barton, Clark, Comanche, Edwards, Finney, Ford, Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kearny, Kiowa, Lane, Meade, Morton, Ness, Pawnee, Rush, Scott, Seward, Stanton, Stevens, Wichita Income Guidelines:
For more information on the Kansas Weatherization Assistance Program or to request an assistance application contact Interfaith Housing Services, Inc. PO Box 1576, Dodge City, KS 67801, 1.877.IHS.KWAP
Interfaith Housing Services, Inc. is proud to partner with the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation in providing this program to the service area.
So, if you're having trouble keeping warm or you're having trouble keeping your furnace running 24 hours a day, get in touch with your electric or gas company and ask them about the Weatherization Assistance Program in your area. You might be surprised that your power company is just as interested in saving energy as they are at selling it.
Highlighting Kansas was a good idea because Kansas believes in saving energy and helping the low income community, but remember, you don't have to be a Jayhawk to get weatherization, there is a weatherization program available in your neck of the woods too.
Thanks for stopping by Detect Energy, hope to see you back real soon, but I won't leave the light on for you...
More from Don ames and Detect Energy at www.detectenergy.com