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OACAC offers weatherization aid

Friday, January 29, 2010

Residents in the bi-county area have an opportunity to help lower heating costs this winter through Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation's (OACAC) weatherization program.

According to OACAC Weatherization Program Director Todd Steinmann, who is based in Springfield and oversees program services for 10 southwest Missouri counties, the weatherization program is designed to help assist patrons who otherwise would not be able to pay for weather-related repairs.

"All of our auditors and inspectors are OACAC employees," said Steinmann. "We also have four OACAC crews that do the weatherization work. Most of the weatherization work in Barry County and part of Lawrence County is done by a hired contractor."

OACAC's initial grant of approximately $7.1 million was received through funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Of the total funds, 9.3 percent will be used to help Barry County residents and 8.8 percent will be used for residents in Lawrence County. The funding amount was based on the 2000 census for poverty in the 10-county service area.

The benefits of the OACAC Weatherization program include:

* Reducing energy usage.

* Increasing energy efficiency housing.

* Alleviating substandard living conditions and reducing homelessness.

* Providing a safer, healthier living environment.

* Extending the lifetime of affordable housing.

* Providing a permanent energy solution for low-income families.

Steinmann noted that each of OACAC's auditors have a Building Performance Institute (BPI) certification. In addition, the organization has a BPI certified inspector and an inspector who obtains a Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) certification as an energy rater.

Through the use of diagnostic tools, OACAC weatherization personnel are able to perform the following:

* A blower door test, which identifies and measures any air leakage.

* A duct system air leakage test.

* An infrared camera test, to guide air sealing and insulation and help with quality control for insulation measures.

* A combustion analyzer to test the efficiency and safety of heating system.

* A computerized National Energy Audit test to determine the most cost effective energy measures for each individual home.

Missouri has received $45 million in federal funds for heating costs each year for the past three years.

Last week, the federal Department of Health and Human Services announced an additional $9.5 million was being released to help low income Missourians pay their energy bills. The stimulus funds will increase the program's regular funds until March of 2012.

Because income guidelines have increased from 150 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, more people will be able to receive help through OACAC's Weatherization program.

The program, which is client based, allows income eligible individuals who rent to apply for weatherization services. However, the owner must agree to allow OACAC to perform weatherization on the home and pay 25 percent of direct material and labor cost. If the homeowners income can be verified at below 200 percent of the poverty guideline, the landlord's contribution can be waived. Additionally, the homeowner has to agree not to raise the tennant's rent for two years.

For more information about the OACAC Weatherization program, including low cost energy tips and how to apply, visit www.oacac-caa.org or call 417-865-7797.

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