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Weatherization Month: Keeping Illinoisians Warm and Safe

October 14, 2013

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - As the cool autumn air settles in, weatherization work is ramping up in Illinois. Crews with the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program are busy helping lower-income residents across the state stay warm in their homes and save money.

According to John Knox, assistant deputy director, Office of Energy Assistance at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the weatherization crews use a range of energy-saving measures, from insulating attics and sidewalls to sealing windows and doors.

"We also do furnace replacement, we do some window replacement and, depending on the building, we might also replace a heat pump or an air conditioning unit, if that would result in energy savings," he said.

Statewide, 35 local Community Action Agencies deliver the program in every county. To qualify, residents must have an annual income below 150 percent of the poverty level, which for a family of four is about $46,000 a year.

Most of the clients are people least able to afford higher utility costs: the elderly, people with disabilities, families with children, and households with an otherwise high energy burden.

Knox pointed out that weatherization isn't only about saving money.

"Every dollar we spend must be justified in more than the dollars spent in energy savings for the client," he said. "So, the general effect is there should be less demand for energy."

And while their work helps make houses more comfortable, Knox pointed out that weatherization crews are also able to address some health and safety issues.

"Some of the homes we enter we also test for combustion safety, so, for gas leaks or for carbon monoxide issues with the ventilation and the furnaces."

The program originated in the 1970s and on average, weatherizes about 6000 houses a year in Illinois.

More information about the program is at ildceo.net.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL