Weatherization program celebrated at open house

Kevin Klingler, an inspector for the Weatherization program operated by Community Action, (right) explains aspects of the program to Curtis Jones of Ashtabula on Tuesday morning during an open house at the Austinburg Road Community Action offices.

ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — Area residents got a close up look at potential savings opportunities during an open house celebration of the Home Weatherization Assistance Program at Community Action headquarters on Austinburg Road Thursday morning.

The open house celebrated the 40th year of the Weatherization program, said John Melnik, Community Action director of housing and energy. He said October is "Weatherization" month and usually the time when people start inquiring about the program's services, which include hot water tank repair and replacement; furnace repair and replacement and insulation.

"As soon as this cool air hits (potential clients) are calling," Melnik said.

Curtis Jones said he stopped by to check out the program and plans to apply for the services.

"I saw a flyer and it looked interesting," he said.

The program has been operational across the country for four decades as a way to save energy and help people save money as well, Melnik said.

Christine McNutt, operations specialist and billing coordinator, said it is an income-eligibility based program with income thresholds of $23,760 for one person, $32,040 for two people, $40,320 for three people and $48,600 for four people.

"We did 81 (total homes) last year in Ashtabula County," she said.

Melnik said 15 field workers and four office workers handle the Weatherization program for Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties. He said an inspector is sent to run a test to find out the potential insulation needs of a home.

Melnik said the program is funded federally by the Department of Energy and Department of Health and Human Services and administered by the state through local agencies.

The open house included an explanation of all the organization's services and a demonstration of some of the equipment used in inspections or in the homes.

Patrick Stuart, a community development analyst for the Ohio Department of Energy, said reports indicate that every dollar used in the program saves several dollars for the home owner.

"It is a program that essentially pays for itself," Stuart said.

Melnik said the program tries to give special attention to each client and make sure they follow up after the work is done.

"It is a good program and we have good employees," said Judith Barris, Community Action executive director.

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