COLUMBUS, Ohio (News Talk 1480 WHBC and Ohio News Connection) – The comfort level of Ohio homes will be put to the test as the first major cold front of the season moves into the region.

And thousands of homes are much more energy efficient thanks to the Weatherization Assistance Program.

Weatherization Day events were held throughout Energy Action Month in October to highlight the ways weatherization helps families reduce their energy bills.

John Sarver, director of operations for Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, says each year, up to 20,000 low-income Ohio households receive services from one of the dozen programs in the state.

“We get to go to new houses every year and help people make their lives better and put a little money in their pocket so they can afford to pay their utility bills, buy food, by lowering the cost of their utility,” Sarver states.

Sarver says weatherization services can cut a home’s energy consumption by one-fourth.

Weatherization programs are funded through both federal and state dollars, and Ohio ranks behind California and Massachusetts for the number of homes that receive weatherization services each year.

Weatherization crews work year-round, and use energy audits and diagnostic equipment to identify ways to improve a home’s energy use.

Sarver says weatherization programs provide repairs and upgrades that improve the comfort, health and safety of the home.

“We keep them safe by installing CO alarms, smoke detectors, replacing furnaces,” he explains. “We can upgrade electrical panels through some programs, we look for other hazards inside the home to try to deal with our funding.”

There are income guidelines to qualify for the Weatherization Assistance Program. Ohioans can go online to to apply, or contact a local community action agency.

by Mary Schuermann Kuhlman