Stimulus Helps Weatherize Hundreds of Homes in Macomb County
July 22, 2010
Weather stripping, adding insulation, and replacing light bulbs can all make a difference in a home's energy costs, and a Roseville residence recently showed off exactly how.
The weatherization assistance program, federally funded through the U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program, is managed in Macomb County through its Community Services Agency. The program has been in existence since 1977, explains Joe Cooke, community operations coordinator for the Macomb County Community Services Agency, but it got more publicity last year after receiving stimulus funding.
The agency used to weatherize about 200 homes a year; now it's closer to 900. Staffing has been doubled to keep up with the demands that came from the increased funding.
To show off the work, agency representatives picked a house that had been weatherized in the past and brought the contractors and inspectors back to talk about some of the things they'd done. "One of the reasons for the demonstration house is to show people their stimulus dollars at work," Cooke says.
Weatherizing actions usually consist of caulking, weather stripping, insulating, new light bulbs, and replacing refrigerators and furnaces that aren't energy-efficient. The fixes are dependent on available funds, so, Cooke explains, a pre-inspection is done on the house to see where energy is being wasted. Then a computer program reports what can be done to the house to tighten it up.
The stimulus funds, an $8.7 million boost for weatherizing homes in Macomb County alone, are available through March of 2012. Cooke says he already has about a year's worth of work lined up.
It's important to concentrate on the homes of those living on a lower income because on average, they spend a greater percentage of their income on utility bills. Weatherization can reduce those costs by about a third. "That's money they can use for food, shelter or other items," he says.