Lower energy bills in North Carolina.

North Carolina officials are preparing to implement a provision in the new federal government stimulus plan that promises billions of dollars to help improve energy efficiency and lower utility bills in low-income homes. The program is known as weatherization, and it is one of the main ways for low income, elderly, and disabled individuals to save money on their monthly energy bills.

Many North Carolina residents stand to benefit substantially from this assistance. Homeowners will benefit from the spending that is offered for new and upgraded heating and cooling systems, insulation, windows, and air filters. Other upgrades can include new CFL light bulbs, repair and/or replacement of windows, and much more. The weatherization program is quite extensive, and the exact type and amount of improvements made to homes will depend on what is discovered from a free energy audit.

It is estimated that funding from the new program will provide North Carolina agencies with over $100 million to administer the weatherization program in North Carolina during the next two years. This is 10 times as much as they usually have to spend on energy saving improvements.

On average, weatherizing a home will lower heating bills by about 30 percent and overall energy bills by $358 per year, according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Thousands of homeowners across North Carolina are eligible for this utility bill and energy bill assistance, and hopefully the number of individuals who can receive help will increase as a result of the stimulus funding.

Contacts for weatherization in NC

The government funds are distributed to several different sources. One of them may be your local county Department of Social Services. However in most cases the task of weatherizing a home will fall to a community action agency.

These agencies will employ professional, highly trained contractors who will visit your home and perform a free energy audit. This audit will allow the contractor to determine what needs to be done to help the homeowner save money. The contractor will also implement the program and improvements.

For example, if the audit discovers air leaking from a window, then the window or pane may be caulked. Or if that is not effective enough, then the window may even be fully replaced, at no cost to the homeowner. Most homes that are weatherized in North Carolina require additional insulation. This has been proven to help people save substantially on their monthly utility and air conditioning bills.

In order to learn more about the federal government weatherization program, and how it may be able to help you save money (for free!) on your energy bills, contact your local community action agency. You will need to apply, funding is limited, but at the end of the day thousands of North Carolina families will be able to benefit from weatherizing their homes.




By Jon McNamara

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