Free Weatherization Helping WV

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – It may be cold outside, but there is help to keep folks’ homes warm on the inside. Free weatherization is saving low-income West Virginians money and keeping them comfortable this winter. Although the community action agencies who do the work have longer waiting lists since federal stimulus money has run out, they say people are still getting great results.

Cathy Hull, Bridgeport, had her home weatherized by the North Central West Virginia Community Action Association, the state’s the largest weatherization agency. Hull said they cleaned and repaired her furnace, insulated her walls, basement and attic, and repaired her chimney – all for free.

“It’s not chilly in here,” she said. “The furnace runs a lot more efficient, and my heating bill’s pretty much cut in half.”

To qualify for free weatherization, a family’s income must fall under 200 percent of the federal poverty line – about $45,000 for a family of four.

David Ruhl runs weatherization programs for CHANGE, Inc., a community action agency in the northern Panhandle. Their waiting list has gotten a lot longer, he said, and they only have enough funds to do about one-third as many homes this year as last. However, he said, he is very proud to be able to help people who really need it.

“The 80-year-old lady who is widowed, we help her out. I’m a big guy, and it brings me to tears. They can see or they can feel these improvements right away.”

Ruhl said weatherization goes far beyond caulking a few windows and putting weather stripping around the doors. Typically, the work itself takes a day to a week, he explained, and on average, weatherization will cut energy use by 30 percent. Customers are generally very pleased with the results, he said, smiling.

“They like to feed my guys, too, for some reason. ‘Let me make you some lunch,’ they say. Of course, we don’t accept; these guys bring their own lunch. We don’t want to put anybody out. We’re just there to help them as much as we can.”

Information about local sources of weatherization help is available from the West Virginia Community Action Partnership at www.WVCommunityActionPartnership.org or 304-347-2277.

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