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Demand up for weatherization assistance

Thursday, March 03, 2011

When money is already in short supply, living in a home that isn't very energy efficient only makes matters worse.

Help with energy efficient upgrades is available to homeowners and renters who meet income guidelines through the Home Weatherization Assistance Program administered locally by the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency.

“The weatherization program isn't an a emergency service. Residents call our office to fill out the application,” said Erin Evans, Wayne Metropolitan Community Agency communications manager. “There is a fairly long waiting list. We're trying to get service started within a year. There is such demand.”

Funded by the federal Department of Energy, the weatherization program work can include larger items such insulation, steel door replacement, roof repairs, furnace and duct repairs along with providing smoke detectors and compact fluorescent bulbs.

Improvements are tailored to each house and designed to realize the maximum energy costs savings. The average upgrade costs $2,672 and it's estimated that families will see $200-250 annual savings going forward, depending on energy costs.

“We have inspectors who do an inspection and recommend improvements that will make the most impact. Each home is unique in what it needs,” said Evans. “We hire contractors to do the work and come back to make sure the work is up to code.”

To qualify for the program, which offers services at no cost to the homeowner, a family of four must have annual household incomes not exceeding $11,025 in the prior 90 days.

“They can be homeowners or renters, but the person who signs the agreement needs to be the landlord or manager of the building,” said Evans.

Having recently opened an office at Westland's Dorsey Center and a weatherization program office in Garden City, the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency administers the weatherization program for western Wayne County and several other communities.

Other programs include emergency energy assistance and foreclosure intervention. Wayne Metro also sponsored the recent Walk for Warmth held at Westland Center to raise energy assistance money.

For more on the weatherization program, call (734) 525-1341. To get information on other programs, call the main services office at (734) 284-6999.

LeAnn Rogers