Story by Darl Devault, Feature Writer
When Kara Sanders, 72, heard about a local program from her daughter Michele offering to weatherize their home for free in South Oklahoma City she wondered how much they would do to her home since 1968.
When the Community Action Agency of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma/Canadian Counties’ Weatherization Program was through she was impressed. She now offers the best testimonial by saying she is strongly recommending to her sister, Janelle Jones, 82, to apply for the free service for her home only a few blocks away.
Sanders is delighted with the completeness of the weatherization every time she turns on her hot water. “Before the workers put an insulating blanket around my hot water tank, I needed to run the hot water a while before it became hot,” Sanders said. “Now my daughter and I are making the adjustment in the last few days to that wonderful feeling of instant hot water.”
After the recent frigid cold snap in Oklahoma City where residents saw 17 and 14 degree below zero mornings, seniors have many reasons to consider applying for free help to weatherize their homes.
“Every program our organization offers strives to create permanent solutions for those in our community,” said Jessie Thompson, executive director of Community Action Agency. “Weatherization is no different. These changes create lasting effects for our clients, including lower utility bills, eliminating health, safety and sanitary hazards to offer peace of mind to homeowners and renters alike.”
Thompson was named executive director of the nonprofit, Community Action Agency (CAA) of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma/Canadian Counties, Inc., in January 2020, after a 14-year tenure with the organization.
Mark Hall headed up the five-worker crew spending three days making sure the Sanders’ home complies with national standards as the agency’s weatherization coordinator. The work is evident, even on the outside, where the workers replaced a big part of the rotting south exterior wall cladding to help close air leaks.
Hall emphasized they use computerized blower doors to detect all air leakage in the home. Then they decided which were the most cost-effective repairs.
For the Sanders home they added extra insulation in the attic. The licensed workers drilled and filled the walls with insulation. To seal a major air leak they also rebuilt the water heater closet to national standards and provided more insulation.
The workers installed new features in the home. They put in a bathroom ceiling vent and a kitchen ducted range hood that vents outside the home. Workers added tubing and a vent to allow the dryer to vent to the outside. To address health and safety concerns they also installed carbon monoxide sensors and smoke detectors.
The agency uses the national standard National Energy Audit Tool (NEAT) energy audit to guide how much work to perform on each home. This audit and compliance with standards are supported by two agency assessors visiting the home before the work and two inspectors visiting the home upon the work’s completion. They coordinate to make sure the home is repaired to comply with national standards.
“I feel blessed, now my daughter and I don’t have to worry about our home not being healthy and safe because we know it is sealed from any gas leaks.” Sanders said. “The workmen were professional in showing respect for my daughters’ privacy while they worked, since she is on oxygen with COPD while almost homebound here.”
Now, multi-family homes, quads and duplexes are eligible to receive services, something CAA was not able to do in the past. CAA offers this program for homes and residents with disabilities and households with children under the age of 12. There is an income requirement to apply. This program has proven to be extremely beneficial for senior residents in need in Oklahoma, Canadian, or Cleveland counties.
In the big picture weatherization can lead to fewer hospitalizations and trips to the emergency room, especially for those with asthma. By sealing, caulking, and adding door and window installation insulation, Hall says the home is often twice as energy efficient. These efforts offer residents permanent solutions to help save money by increasing energy efficiency. On average, residents save $40 per month on utility bills after CAA’s Weatherization program.
For information about the program see Community Action Agency of Oklahoma City & OK/CN Counties, Inc. (caaofokc.org)
If you are interested in receiving Weatherization Assistance, please complete this brief application. For more information or if you have questions, please call (405) 232.0199 to ask for Home Weatherization, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.