Cold prompts more to use weatherization program

Clark County goal to improve 66 houses this year.

Greg Smith, energy coordinator for the Clinton County Community Action Program, the state-sponsored contractor in Clark County, said officials are fielding more inquiries for weatherization services, but efforts to assists residents have often been hampered by the snow and sub-zero temperatures.

Smith said program officials have a goal of weatherizing 66 homes this year and have already worked on 32.

“I feel sorry for them. I’ve seen drastic situations where, when crews arrive, and they’re huddled up together because its so cold,” Smith said.

The Community Action Program had received $2.8 million annually under the stimulus, but funding has been reduced to about $600,000 now.

Smith also said the number of CAP employees dropped from 17 to eight, with only five who work on homes.

“The need to do this is still there, but the funding level to do it isn’t,” Smith said.

The weatherization program is a free service to those who meet income requirements.

Crews assess home heating efficiency, install insulation where needed, weatherstrip windows and other areas, replace furnaces and water heaters if needed for those who own their own home.

“It’s a major undertaking, especially if you have to shovel snow,” Smith said.

Dean Knapp, executive director of CAP, said the sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall has slowed efforts to weatherize homes.

He said construction sites shut down in sub-zero conditions, but CAP crews have worked through it.

“Accessing the work sites can be tough, getting there, getting their trucks out there has been tough,” Knapp said. “This is one of the worst ones we’ve had in decades.”

The average amount agencies statewide spend on weatherizing homes is about $6,900, Smith said, but he said CAP works with utility companies and other organizations and may spend up to $10,000.

Homeowners and residents can save about 30 percent on utilities after repairs are made, he said.

To qualify, residents must be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line or $46, 100 for a family of four.

For more information about the program, call 937-322-2146.

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