Georgia County Government - July/August 2012 - (Page 30)

ExtensionNews The Impact of Weatherization Programs in Georgia By Pamela R. Turner, Ph.D. and Andrew Herren ising home energ y costs impact all Georgians. In 2010, Georgia households with annual incomes below $50,000 (1.8 million households) spent approximately 22 percent of their after-tax income on energy. Unfortunately, energy costs affect a disproportionately larger number of minority, elderly and low-income households. Among the poorest families (those earning less than $10,000), energy expenditures prior to any state energy assistance were 76 percent of their after-tax income. Energy assistance in the form of weatherization assistance programs helps reduce future energy costs so people do not have to choose between heat and other basic necessities such as food. In an effort to assist more people, reduce energy use and grow green jobs, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 allotted additional funds through the U.S. Department of Energy for weatherization R programs to retrofit the homes of qualified households. The qualifications were income based, but a weighted selection process was used to ensure that the homes of older and disabled individuals were brought more in line with modern energy efficient standards. Weatherization Assistance Program The University of Georgia (UGA) worked with the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) to implement the expanded Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) in Georgia. UGA Cooperative Extension College of Family and Consumer Sciences hired energy educators and inspectors to provide energy education, conduct inspections and encourage the adoption of green practices among Georgia residents, with an emphasis on low-income and elderly families. WAP focuses on reducing energy costs by sealing air leaks; adding insulation to the attic and sidewalls; sealing and insulating ducts; replacing inefficient refrigerators; repairing and replacing heating and cooling systems; installing programmable thermostats and replacing inefficient water heaters. Keeping the conditioned air in the home and the moisture out of the home is an important part of managing energy costs and comfort. Caulking and sealing both large and small holes costs little but make a substantial impact on reducing energy costs. Safety is another important part of weatherization. Extensive combustion safety testing on furnaces and water heaters is done. A carbon monoxide alarm is installed in all weatherized homes with either gas appliances or an attached garage. In Georgia, WAP has been very successful, weatherizing over 10,000 homes for a cumulative energy savings of 305,000 million British Thermal Units (BTUs) of energy. This translates into Energy Education Makes Good Sense and Good ‘Cents’ can save up to 30 percent of a family’s energy costs, thus freeing up income which that family can then spend on other needs including food, transportation and health care. Weatherization projects also create jobs for local contractors in your community and result in the purchase of goods and supplies from local vendors. Besides the obvious economic benefits, weatherization creates environmental and social benefits as well. A weatherized home will demand less energy, resulting in less air pollution and ultimately, a reduced dependence on foreign energy sources. Furthermore, when a family installs smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as part of its energy efficiency plan, they are helping to ensure their safety in the event of an emergency. After a little more than two years, funding for the UGA Cooperative Extension Energy Education program has run out. During that time, thousands of Georgia residents were reached through educational programs, consultations and home inspections. Numerous valuable lessons were learned with respect to energy efficiency, water conservation and related topics. Even tod ay, loc a l C ooperat ive Extension offices are still highly valuable resources when it comes to finding research-based information about the home as a complete system. For more information, contact your local University of Georgia Extension office or call 1-800-ASK-UGA1. ■ Jeff Christie serves as the ACCG / UGA Cooperative Extension Liaison. He may be reached at (404) 522-5022 or: By Jeff Christie W 30 he t he r you h ave b e e n a pa r t icipa nt i n t he Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) at any time since its inception in 1976, or you have simply taken steps, on your own, to make your home more energy-efficient, you and your family have, no doubt, benefitted in a number of ways. Clearly, there are economic advantages to energy efficiency. Weatherizing a home GEORGIA COUNTY GOVERNMENT

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - July/August 2012

President’s Message
Director’s Desk
Henry County: Building Bridges to Benefit One Henry
Piedmont Henry Hospital Adds Important Healthcare Component to One Henry
Five Georgia Events that Changed History
Performance Contracting: A Creative Solution
Energy Savings Performance Contracts: Risks and Rewards for Local Governments
Georgia Legacy: Making the Economic Case for Land Conservation
Extension News: The Impact of Weatherization Programs in Georgia
News & Notes
Index of Advertisers

Georgia County Government - July/August 2012