The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

January 1, 2014

Weatherization program helps area residents

By Cody Neff
The Register-Herald

— When the weather gets frightful and the fire isn’t as delightful as it should be, you might have a problem with your insulation. If you don’t think you can afford to have your house weatherized against the elements, there are groups out there that might change your mind.

Mountainheart Community Services has a weatherization program that will not only keep you warm, but is also made to save you some money.

“Someone has to apply for weatherization services and based on their income we qualify them,” Fayette and Wyoming County Weatherization Coordinator Gerald Brown said. “If they meet their income guidelines and own their house then they go into the system on the flowchart.

“Because of the lack of funding we have, it might be four or five years before we get to them. Naturally the elderly are our first priority then handicapped and then people with children. As long as you meet that 200 percent income guideline, you’re eligible for weatherization and we’ll come work on your house.”

Brown said every house is different in what needs to be weatherized.

“We do an energy audit on the house,” he said. “We go out and get the measurements of the house and all of the characteristics of the house. We bring all of that back and put it into NEAT, which is the National Energy Audit Tool. It spits out what we should do to that house.

“Most of the time we’re going to add some kind of insulation to the ceiling. We’re going to air seal it and seal up the duct work. We’re going to tune the furnace up, insulate under the floor, and insulate the walls if they need it. Every now and then we’ll change a refrigerator. We put CFLs or Compact Fluorescent Lights, in. We wrap the hot-water tank and the waterlines. It’s a really good program.”

Brown said most of the heat-loss in a house is through the attic.

“A house is like a chimney, he said. “Heat goes up. We seal the attic to keep heat from escaping. There’s a lot of heat and energy lost through your ductwork. Basically what we’re trying to do is, for every dollar we spend, save a dollar of energy. The house we just did, we saved $2.40 for every dollar we spent. That varies from house to house, but the minimum we’re allowed to save is one dollar for every dollar spent.

“To seal the ductwork on the last house we did, we said we’d spend $165 on sealing the ductwork. For that $165, we saved $6 on every dollar that we spent. For attic filtration, we said we’d spend $177 and saved $6.70 for every dollar that we spent. The returns on duct work have to be sealed just as well as the supply.

The weatherization program helps the elderly because their income is fixed and low, Brown said.

“It’s 200 percent guidelines, but most of the elderly people, they’re around 75 to 100 percent of the poverty guidelines,” he said. “If I save you $50 in six months on your electric bill and you only have $500 a month coming in, that’s 10 percent of your income that we put back into your pocket. You can get medicine and things like that with the savings.”

Even mobile homes can be weatherized, Brown said.

“About 50 percent of what we do is mobile homes,” he said. “We blow insulation in the ceilings of mobile homes. The older models that only have one or two inches of ceiling, so we’ll fill the top up. We’ll blow fiberglass in those. The belly board, most mobile homes of 15 to 20 years, someone has torn the bottom out of them. We’ll patch those up and blow them full of insulation too.”

If you had a good experience with the weatherization program, Brown says he hopes you’ll get in touch with your congressmen and tell them.

“People need to get onto their congressmen and tell them to give us some more funding instead of cutting us,” he said.

“It’s a good program and it really helps people. We’ve been cut to the bone.

“We’ve barely got enough to even operate this year after the cuts. If everyone could call their congressmen and tell them they’ve had a good experience with weatherization, that will help everyone out.”

Mountainheart Community Services provides weatherization for families in Fayette and Wyoming County. For more information about the program, call 304-682-8271.

— E-mail:cneff@register-herald.com