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By Randy Pierce
After a slow start due to supply chain problems, the 2023 Madison County home weatherization program which ended recently has exceeded by two its goal of 53 applicable residential structural improvements while the department administering it has also provided 74 air conditioning units for those in need.
In a report to the Madison County Board Grants Committee last month, Christopher Otto, the administrator of the county community development department, related those details and more concerning these efforts.
The Madison County Weatherization Program, the application deadline for which has passed for the current year, aids eligible homeowners by installing energy-saving measures free of charge in residences using a priority ranking system which gives those low-income eligible households with heating bills which are difficult to pay, people over the age of 60, persons with disabilities and homes with children ages five or under the greatest consideration.
The various means to address weatherization challenges, not only for reducing utility bills but also to conserve fuel and reduce energy consumption, include preventing the infiltration of excessive outside air by insulating attics and walls, caulking, weather-stripping and sealing bypass areas.
Additionally included are inspections by qualified individuals of furnaces and air conditioners to ensure their safe and cost-effective operation with new units being installed in some instances.
Otto’s shared information included an introduction of what he referred to as the members of “our long-standing original crew” of Mike Rodgers, Matt Anderson, Joel Hiller and Adam Ellerbeck who received a round of applause at the committee after that acknowledgment.
“These guys go into people’s homes four days a week,” Otto said, “and in the 19 months I’ve been here, I’ve never gotten a report or a call there was a problem.”
In further elaborating on the assistance efforts, Otto stated the 74 window air-conditioning units, with capacities of 6000 British Thermal Units each, were distributed during June and early July through partnership support offered by Ameren Illinois and the county’s share of state-provided community development block grant funds, this aspect of the program being led by Amy Lyerla of his staff.
Funding for the program originates with the federal departments of energy and health and human services as administered through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.