Weatherizing Low Income Homes

NORTHEAST KINGDOMS-Vermont's Department For Children and Families has been trying to get the word out about their Weatherization Assistance Program, especially since the pandemic has started.

There is a Weatherization Program in every state, and Vermont has five local agencies that handle the weatherization of homes evenly throughout Vermont. The program is designed to assist low income residents weatherize their homes. "All the work is totally free, its energy efficiency improvements that are cost effective," Weatherization Program Administrator, Geoff Wilcox explains.

"This work includes air sealing, insulation, heating systems, clean and tune, sometimes replacements," Wilcox said. The goal is to help low income clients put money back in their pockets doing this free work. "Save money for clients, but improve the comfort of their homes drastically," Wilcox explained.

The work also has a lot of health benefits for people with high allergies, as the work improves air quality. "It's really the house as a system, and we go in and evaluate it. We determine the most cost effective way to improve it. Do that work, report it to the state, and we do that month, after month, after month, year after year," Wilcox explains with enthusiasm.

Northeast Employment Training Organization (NETO) is based in the St. Johnsbury area as well as Newport Vt, where they help to weatherize homes in the NEK. St. Johnsbury's location has done seven homes in the last month. "Every month NETO weatherizes homes, they do approximately 12 to 15 a month," Wilcox said.

The Weatherization Programs are also big on creating jobs, as they hire people all across the board. The program originally started as a training program, (CETA) with a lot of the weatherization workers being low income folks themselves. "So our routes are folks that need jobs and need training. They come into the program and work to help other low income people, kill two birds with one stone," Wilcox explains.

Wilcox shares that he used to be one of those people, working his way up into the program. Now working for the state in a higher up position. "Typically they heard about the program, just applied and stayed in the job," Wilcox said. Residents are most greatful for this program, always complimenting workers on their professionalism. At this point the legislature is planning on giving the program some more funding moving forward. The plan is not set in stone yet, but they are expecting a two million dollar increase in funding.