Should You Weatherize Your Home?

August 9, 2019

A professional weatherization upgrade that protects your home from the elements and increases its energy efficiency can have a positive effect on your pocketbook as well as your health and safety.

Still, many people in Louisiana overlook these benefits because they think the weatherization process is either too expensive or difficult. In reality, weatherizing your home is relatively easy and affordable.

Here are four reasons you should consider weatherizing your home.

The Process is Grounded in Science

The vast majority of this type of work in Louisiana is funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which aims to improve heating and cooling efficiency. The program in Louisiana is administered through the Louisiana Housing Corporation.

The weatherization process begins with an energy audit, a computerized assessment of your home’s energy use that is carried out by professionals. The process typically includes an analysis of your energy bills, a depressurized test to determine the infiltration of outside air and an inspection of all energy equipment for health and safety.

The audit yields a list of the most cost-effective conservation measures for your home. All proposals are energy-related, which means they won’t include new roofing, siding or similar structural improvements. “This is not a rehab program,” says Lauren Holmes, LHC’s housing finance deputy administrator. “This is more about building science and making the home work more effectively for the client.”

It Can Lower Your Utility Bills

Weatherization helps ease energy usage through cost-effective building upgrades such as insulation and air sealing, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting and appliances.

Holmes says air sealing and attic insulation are among the most common weatherization upgrades in Louisiana. “Sealing and insulating will make a huge impact,” she says. “Many of our clients’ homes are much older homes built in the ’50s, some even the ’40s.”

This improved energy efficiency translates into real savings on utility bills. A national evaluation of the weatherization program found participants saved an average of $283 every year.

Holmes says the goal is to create long-term changes within a home. “We can help you with your utilities all day long. But unless we actually change the processes and weatherize the home, those bills are going to continue to increase or they're going to remain the same,” she says.

It Can Lead To Better Health and Safety

Beyond monthly cost savings, weatherization can make your home safer and better for your health. Experts who perform the energy audit often replace outdated equipment such as old heaters that are potentially dangerous.

“We install carbon monoxide detectors, and we install smoke detectors,” Holmes says. “We will also wrap your water heater and ensure that there's no heat loss happening there.” She says minor electrical issues can also be addressed through the program.

Financial Assistance Is Available

Nationally, as many as 20 million U.S. families are eligible for weatherization services, including thousands across Louisiana.

In Louisiana, the LHC administers the DOE Weatherization Assistance Program that reduces energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of homes while also ensuring health and safety.

The LHC distributes more than $8 million a year in assistance through seven community partners. The average expenditure is $6,500 per home. Holmes says the LHC assists about 700 homes annually but plans to expand the program. The goal for 2020, she says, is to reach 1000 homes.

The program services households with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level. Eligible households must apply through one of the seven community partners to take part.

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