Weatherization program helping reduce heating expenses

LAKE COUNTY – Many people dread the cold, but for low-income families in northern Michigan, the inconvenience of shoveling snow or bundling up is the least of their worries. Instead, it’s the anticipation of high heating costs that can be overwhelming.

To help alleviate the burden of utility bills, FiveCAP, Inc. is providing weatherization services to income-eligible homeowners and renters at no cost.

“The goal is to reduce the energy consumption of homeowners by upwards of 25 percent through adding insulation, addressing all the combustion appliances to make sure they’re working efficiently, air sealing – things like that,” said Jodi Willison, director of housing for FiveCAP.

A lot of people are struggling with their utility bills, as evidenced by the great number of people seeking home heating assistance through FiveCAP. Willison said weatherization allows people to get ahead of the curve.

“We explain the services that we provide through weatherization,” she said of speaking with potential applicants, “like adding insulation, addressing their furnace and water heater and evaluating them to make sure they’re working as efficiently as they can. Usually, once they hear all of that, they’re pretty excited about the program.

“If they can reduce their costs and use those funds for other needs in their homes, they’re all for it.”

One Lake County resident had seven new windows, two doors and insulation installed in his home, in addition to receiving a new furnace through the program. He is a renter who pays his own utility bills and already, in his first year in the program, has noticed a significant decrease in his electricity costs.

He encouraged others to look into the benefits available through FiveCAP.

“When it comes to appreciating your home, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” the man said. “If the program is out there, you should take advantage of it. This is a good program, and if you’re thinking you’re eligible, you should give it a shot.”

The FiveCAP client said the process to apply was not difficult and he was really pleased with the work done by the contractor and their employees.

Funding for the program was provided through a three-year American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant. In FiveCAP’s four-county service area, a goal was set to weatherize a total of 720 homes by March 31, 2012.

The program has open enrollment and applicants are still being sought. Eligibility for the program is based on income, with the following maximum household income for the last three months:

  • One person: $5,958
  • Two people: $7,791
  • Three people: $9,625
  • Four people: $11,458
  • Five people: $13,291
  • Six people: $15,124
  • Seven people: $16,905
  • Eight people: $18,815

Applicants should be prepared to provide ownership or landlord documents for their home, which can include a deed or title recorded in the applicant’s name. Additionally, proof of payment of current property taxes must be provided as well as the most recent electric and heat bills, with the account numbers.

Proof of income can be provided through check stubs, Social Security award letters, pension statements, VA benefits, accounting or profit and loss statements or other such documents. Copied checks, however, are not permissible.

The full name, date of birth and Social Security number for each resident must also be provided for the application process.

For more information, or to apply for the program, contact FiveCAP at (231) 745-4617 or stop by the office located at 2476 West 44th St., in Baldwin.