Originally created 07/30/05

Home program's work heating up



There's never really a slow time when it comes to making homes energy efficient, but lately the workload for the crews who do the work has been soaring as high as the temperatures outdoors.

Keesha Jordan, the assistant to the area's weatherization program, says her office has been so bombarded by calls, she's started telling applicants they might have to wait two years.

"We just work double overtime in the hot-hot and cold-cold months," Ms. Jordan said. She said the usual wait is six to eight months, yet it's hard to tell. "We're full - technically - yet still accepting applications."

The goal of the weatherization program is to make repairs that help low-income families save on energy bills.

Caulking, insulation installation and plugging leaks are just a few tasks the CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority's four-person work force will perform. The limit is $2,672 worth of work per house.

Altogether, the authority covers 13 Georgia counties, including Richmond, Burke and Columbia.

Ms. Jordan said residents in these areas must fall 150 percent or more below the poverty line to be considered, with elderly and disabled qualifiers given highest priority.

By far, the most popular service provided during the summer is insulation add-ons.

"Any kind of a break or hole in a house, we're closing it up," she said. "We're trying to make the houses as airtight as possible so that families' air conditioning functions better."

It's difficult to quantify how much cooler the rooms become with proper insulation, but she said the drop in temperature is noticeable.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, weatherization reduces energy bills by an average of $274 per year.

As of April, 57 homes were weatherized in the 13-county region using a grant from the Department of Energy, 57 using funds from Health and Human Services and about 15 using grant money from Georgia Power, according to program records.

Ms. Jordan said she's anticipating that future federal funding will make it possible to add hot-water heater and refrigerator repairs to the list of approved tasks.

During the past year, the program expanded to include mobile homes in addition to standard houses. No matter the type of residence, Ms. Jordan said a staff member must first inspect the building before upgrades begin.

"We don't want people to think that we'll just be out there ready to work," she said. "I go and take a look and snap a picture before anything happens."

Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339 or dena.levitz@augustachronicle.com.

Repair work

Repairs weatherization crews will make, if an applicant qualifies for the program:

- adding Sheetrock to holes

- putting insulation in someone's attic

- caulking

- weatherstripping

- replacing broken glass

- replacing doors if there is only minor damage to the door

For more information about the program or to request an application, call 722-0493, ext. 101.