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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) is offering caulking, weather stripping, insulation, and other services to eligible homes as part of its Weatherization Program.

Dora Tharp, energy coordinator for NHS, gave a presentation on the program to Oregon council at its last meeting in March.

The program has been in existence since 1977.

Not only does it offer caulking, weather stripping, some insulation, but other weatherization services as well, said Tharp.

“Over the years, it’s become much more complicated and technical. I’ve been with NHS wince 1984. The program now deals with not only the insulation measures, but also with some inspection of the heating unit and hot water tank,” she said. “We do combustion analysis and other types of diagnostics to make sure that the heating systems are operating not only efficiently but safely as well.”

NHS also offers attic and sidewall insulation, she said.

The program is free for people who meet eligibility requirements, she said.

“The eligibility criteria are that the household numbers must be at or below 200 percent of the income poverty guideline. It goes according to the number of people living in the household. For example, the income guideline for one person is $21,660, for two people, $29,140, and so on. We use the same application as the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) application, and [the public] can fill out that application at our office,” said Tharp.

Once the application is approved, NHS inspectors do an assessment of what needs to be done and writes up a work order.

“We have to address the heating unit before we move onto the insulation because we want to make sure that once we tighten up that structure, we’re not going to have any problems with that heating unit. Otherwise we would be exacerbating any kind of problems the heating system might have,” said Tharp.

The work is then inspected. “We have licensed contractors we work with. They do have to be bonded and licensed, and we check that on a yearly basis,” she said.

Following the inspection, NHS’s crews begin the insulation process, she said.

“Our crews are constantly being trained by the state of Ohio. In order for a crew member to move up to a crew leader or inspector, they have to have prerequisite training that is dictated by the state of Ohio. After the insulation work is done, we do a post inspection to make sure that the work our crews have done have been done according to standards and that there are no problems or issues at that point,” said Tharp.

Anyone interested in participating in the Weatherization Program can fill out an application, or call the NHS office at 419-691-2900 to receive an application in the mail.

“Right now, the waiting period is not too long. Fortunately, we’re doing so many units that we’re expected to do, that it’s moving along quite smoothly. So right now, it’s approximately anywhere from three to six months once the case is approved,” said Tharp.

Councilman Sandy Bihn said she had inquired about the Weatherization Program after she read that the state of Ohio is leading the nation in the weatherization of homes.

“I was wondering if people in our community were aware of applying for it, And if you came, this might get some publicity and people in our community might reach out and become more aware of the opportunities that are there, especially some of our senior citizens, of which we have a sizable population, and some of the older homes that could perhaps benefit from this,” Bihn said to Tharp.

Bihn asked if there were any costs to the public to participate in the program.

Tharp said it was free to those who met eligibility standards.

“If they’re income eligible, it doesn’t cost them anything. If it is rental property, which we do, and we find that the heating unit or hot water tank has to be replaced, then we do seek landlord contributions because the landlord would be benefiting directly from it,” said Tharp.

NHS is trying to get the word out to the public about the program, said Tharp.

She confirmed that Ohio has taken the lead among states in weatherization since the program received stimulus funds last July.

“Ohio has done 8,600 units since the inception of the stimulus package. I think the second state is Kentucky, with approximately 1,600 units, she said.

“According to studies conducted by the state, a household can save up to 30 percent of utility costs based on what we do,” she said.

“I think there are people here who can take advantage of this,” said Bihn. “I think it’s great the state of Ohio is doing this. I hope people in Oregon will reach out and take advantage of it as well.”

Bihn thanked City Administrator Mike Beasley for facilitating Ms. Tharp’s presentation to council.

Beasley said the Weatherization Program’s application forms will also be available in the city’s finance department at the municipal building on Seaman Road.

“We think it would help preserve the value of Oregon housing stock and save some dollars for our residents,” said Beasley.

For more information, contact the Neighborhood Housing Services at 419-691-2900 or visit its office at 704 2nd Street, Toledo.

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