Weatherization: Improving Home Safety and Reducing Your Energy Bill

Here, at PK Safety, we recently learned about a nationwide program instituted by the U.S. Department of Energy that promotes the use of clean and sustainable energy through weatherization funding. It’s the Weatherization Assistance Program. This came to our attention when a couple of new customers approached us from community action groups that specifically carry out weatherization services. These customers purchased gas detectors for their organizations so we looked into it a bit to find out more about how they are helping their communities. We worked with the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program and B.C.M.W. Community Services. They found us after being advised to purchase RKI Instruments four-gas monitors that would bring them into OSHA compliance for their services and qualify them for their state’s funds. One of our Corporate Account Experts worked with them to help choose the right solution for gas detection in their projects and recommended the GX-2009 4-Gas Monitor from RKI Instruments.

What Is Involved In a Weatherization Project?

 In order for a building to be properly weatherized, it will need to undergo an audit during which several elements in the home are being checked and assessed for energy use with the aim to pinpoint problem areas. These areas include appliances, home electronics, insulation and air sealing, lighting, space heating and water heating/cooling, as well as windows and doors.

Services and upgrades may involve:

  • Home audit and assessment of energy efficiency needs
  • Testing heating systems and appliances for combustion safety
  • Testing for carbon monoxide and gas leaks
  • Monitoring for possible moisture damage or mold infestations
  • Checking insulation, windows, doors, basements and attics for outside leaks
  • Replacing and tune-ups of heating and cooling systems
  • Checking electrical panels and wiring for safety
  • Installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Solar energy systems installation

Some upgrades that are most often needed in a weatherization retrofit include insulating walls, attics, water heaters and pipes, sealing doors, crawls spaces, basements, applying weather stripping and caulk, replacing doors, windows, walls and roofing, installing new HVAC and ducting, and even adding solar energy panels.

Why Are Gas Monitors Needed for Weatherization Projects?

Confined spaces, like attics and crawl spaces, may be poorly ventilated and, as a result, contain insufficient oxygen or hazardous levels of toxic gases. Contractors and service providers encounter numerous health and safety risks when entering a home to accomplish weatherization audits and services. In order to qualify for federal and state funding through the Weatherization Assistance Program, the organizations that carry out these projects need to ensure they are OSHA-compliant. OSHA requires performing gas monitoring of confined spaces before entering them in order to prevent serious injury or death.

In 2015 the definition of a confined space was expanded to include attics and crawl spaces. Most commonly, there are cases where a worker could be exposed to hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, or combustible gases that would poison them or leave them with a lack of oxygen. Since RKI Instruments company is a very dependable and respected brand of gas detection equipment, it makes perfect sense that the OSHA representative recommended these devices to the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program for their gas detection needs. PK Safety carries many RKI gas detectors and is happy to help you find the right gas detection solution for your weatherization projects.

What Are The Benefits of Weatherization?

Weatherization improvements in buildings and residences can make a positive environmental impact through clean energy use and reduced need for energy consumption. Through the program, organizations are working with the qualifying low-income residents who normally wouldn’t be able to make this type of change, and also help them with a reduction in energy bills. In addition, the health safety of the residents is often improved with better air quality inside the home benefitting from the newer, retrofitted insulation and filtration systems. Improved insulation after sealing leaks around doors, windows and wall joints can keep heat out in summer and in during winter.

These simple changes can significantly reduce energy use through the busy seasons. Depending on your climate, you will have different needs for the levels of insulation, moisture control, and ventilation. Insulation provides resistance to heat flow.  The more heat flow resistance is provided in your insulation, the lower the heating and the cooling costs are, and the more comfortable it will be for living. Not only is weatherization good for your energy bill, it can help with safety issues caused by aging appliances, insulation, and HVAC systems.

More About The Weatherization Assistance Program and Services

Instituted by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Weatherization Assistance Program funds qualifying community organizations like these, to help local low-income residents to reduce energy bills and improve health and safety. The U.S. Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs Office coordinates with local and state leaders to accelerate the adoption of energy efficiency improvement best practices and technologies. These partnerships help American communities overcome barriers to clean and efficient energy use.

The state governments and local agencies usually work to leverage this Energy Department funding with other federal, state, utility and private resources to increase the amount of homes that can be weatherized. The local agencies and organizations work to provide weatherization assessments and services to those who may be in need of solutions or improved technologies for home energy upgrades.

The U.S. Department of Energy developed the Home Energy Score system to build market value for home energy efficiency with nationwide household recognition. In order to score a home, a builder or contractor will use the “house-as-a-system” approach for evaluation. A home is audited and receives a score that reflects its energy efficiency based on the structure, heating, cooling, and hot water systems. This approach ensures that the team of building professionals consider all the variables, details and interactions that affect energy use in the home. In addition to this, they evaluate the occupant behavior, site conditions, and climate.

Who is Eligible for Weatherization Assistance?

Weatherization Assistance resources are available in every state through the U.S. Department of Energy. According to DOE, more than 30 million U.S. families may be eligible for weatherization services. Energy services are provided by the states’ local weatherization agencies. Those who receive Supplemental Security Income are automatically eligible to receive weatherization services. Not only house owners, but also renters who meet the corresponding criteria are eligible for weatherization if the landlord accepts the terms of the project.

The Department of Energy issued important guidelines that state that the priority must be given to the elderly, to people with disabilities, and to families with children. Income is one of the main factors affecting eligibility: those whose income falls below the “200% poverty level” are eligible.

Check your state and local government’s Weatherization Assistance Programs and also your local power supply company’s website for more information.

We are thankful to the organizations like B.C.M.W. Community Services or the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program for promoting clean energy use.

 

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