In the popular TV show “Game of Thrones,” the words “winter is coming” signaled the approach of something ominous. For homeowners, the phrase means increased energy bills — which can be equally scary.
Winter weather can be even more worrisome for low-income families —especially high-risk households that include children, the elderly or the disabled, as well as high-energy users. Pennsylvania’s Weatherization Assistance Program serves low-income households living and works to make homes more energy efficient by using advanced technology and testing procedures to insure a more comfortable and safer environment.
In 1976, federal legislation was approved to provide energy conservation standards, reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil and incentivize domestic energy production programs. Part of the act included aid to help low-income families reduce energy costs.
Pennsylvania’s Weather Assistance Program, funded by the Department of Energy, started a year later. The program provides assistance to low-income families through public and nonprofit agencies.
Eligible low-income households seeking assistance can visit the Department of Community and Economic Development website at dced.pa.gov for more information or contact the Community Action Agency of Delaware County at 610-521-8770.
WHAT PROGRAM OFFERS
The Weatherization Assistance Program provides an assessment of a home’s air leakage and needed health and safety repairs, and provides energy education. Representatives conduct on-site energy audits to determine the most cost-effective and efficient solutions. Services include but are not limited to:
Blower door directed air sealing to effectively locate and reduce air leakage throughout the home.
Installation of attic, wall, basement and crawlspace insulation and ventilation to reduce energy loss.
Heating system modification or replacement to increase efficiency and/or safety.
Minor repairs, and health and safety measures, are provided during the installation of the weatherization measures.
Education on the proper use and maintenance of the installed weatherization measures and ways to reduce daily energy waste.
Even if your household doesn't qualify for the program, there are easy steps you can take to weatherize you home — and it’s never too early to start either.
“People can weatherize their home anytime,” says Casey Smith, communications director of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. “Weatherization is more than just ‘winterizing’ a home. Weatherization is a year-round benefit both during the heating and cooling seasons. It helps seal up drafts to prevent the loss of heated or conditioned inside air from escaping to the outside.”
1. Keeping warm air in and cold air out can be as easy as using a tube of caulking to seal around the edges of doors and windows.
2. To reduce draftiness, use weather-stripping around the edges of windows.
3. It's helpful to open your blinds during the day to let in the free heat from the sun and close them at night to keep the heat in. Draperies can both decrease the discomfort associated with drafty windows and reduce heat loss by as much as 25%.
4. Your house doesn’t need to be warm when you're away or asleep. By installing a programmable thermostat, you can set the thermostat to a lower temperature when it's not needed, even by only a few degrees, you will save significantly on heating costs.
5. Stop cold air from coming into your home by using sheets of rigid foam insulation to line the back of doors leading to your attic and basement.
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