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Weatherization assistance helping many button up for winter

Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31 is National Weatherization Day. Throughout Vermont, hundreds of homes are weatherized each year with the goal of helping the state's most vulnerable residents save money on heating, so they have it to spend on other necessities like food.

Work is underway to button up a Starksboro mobil home before winter hits. By law, Vermonters who receive fuel assistance must apply for weatherization assistance.  In the past two years 1,722 homes have been weatherized. There are five statewide providers doing the work, including the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity which is working on this project.

"We get applications for eligible clients based on income. Then, when it is their turn, we go and do an energy audit to analyze the home and see what measures we can complete based on the cost benefit analysis. Then we have our crews, as you see here, that go out and do the weatherization work," said Jenn Wood with CVOEO.

The average spent on each project is about 65-hundred dollars. The money comes from several sources including weatherization trust fund dollars through the state -- which is based on a gross receipts tax -- and some money from the U.S. Department of Energy.  And for the last couple of years, money from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act which expires in March of 2012.

Monday's job -- insulation. "Typically there is 3 to 6 inches, usually less than 6 inches of fiberglass in the floor of a mobile home, so we are going to add a good 6 to 8 inches on top of that, pack it in the floor system, which also will eliminate air movement and insulate at the same time,"  said Greg Wigginton, the Project Manager.

Typically, doors are not replaced, but the doors on this home were so bad they were beyond repair. "It was in rough shape -- leaking here, leaking water, so this is the new one we put in," Wigginton said.

Insulation will also be blown in the small attic space and drafty spots will be sealed up.  An earlier weatherization program installed a small solar panel which blows warm air into the living room as long as the sun shines.

The Starksboro family says they typically spend about 400-dollars a month to heat their home. The weatherization program could save them up to 24-percent, or about 1-hundred dollars a month.

"Surely can save a significant portion which lots of times these clients need that money toward basic necessities food and things for their children so it helps in that capacity," Jenn Wood said.

And that is the goal of this program.  Wood says there is a long waiting list.  Renters can also qualify based on income -- weatherization providers work with the landlords.

Judy Simpson