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Tis the season for ... weatherization?

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By Cindy DiFazio

Staff writer/photographer

The official start to winter is about 14 weeks away, but one local agency wants residents to think ahead for the frigid temperatures.

The Tri-County Community Action Agency encourages Henry County residents to apply for a federally-funded weatherization program.

Program director Kris Schulenburg said a combination of about $400,000 more in stimulus dollars and relaxed income guidelines will allow the agency to serve about 80 households. In 2008, about 45 households received weatherization assistance.

The goal is to help people cut down on the money they spend on fuel and electric bills.

Brian Raisor of the Henry County branch is available to help residents apply for the program. “Come on up here and I’ll help fill out the paperwork,” he said. “We’re just trying to help as many as we can.”

Raisor said annual income guidelines have gone up about $10,000, giving some middle-income residents a chance to receive help. A family of four can gross as much as $44,100 yearly and still qualify.

The most common service provided is insulation for walls, floors, attics and ducts. “That’s where we get the most bang for the buck,” Schulenburg said.

Other available services are heating system repair and replacement, repairs to damaged floors, wall and ceilings, minor repairs to doors and windows, caulking and weather-stripping, home energy inspection and health and safety inspection as well as testing of heating equipment, chimney and flues.

Schulenburg is a 22-year weatherization guru. She completed HVAC training to learn how to save energy around the house. “I felt there was no reason for us to live so wastefully,”  Schulenburg said, “when there are relatively easy things we can do.”

She began her career with Project Warm and Louisville Gas and Electric. She took over the weatherization team for the Tri-County CAA in October.

Schulenburg is an expert at evaluating what a resident as well as a home needs. “When Kris walks in (to a home) she makes people feel comfortable,” Raisor said. “That’s what makes her different.”

During the inspection she measures carbon monoxide levels, checks for drafts and gas leaks, evaluates the efficiency of the current heating system and evaluates any existing health or safety hazards that need to be brought up to National Fire Prevention Association codes.

Work is performed by private contractors and is inspected by agency representatives to ensure it was completed properly.

Raisor stressed that even if an applicant doesn’t make it into the first round of recipients more money may be expected.  “If we get them in now,” he said, “then as soon as the funding comes in again, we’re ready to rock and roll again.”

Deputy director Brenda Fox said she also is hopeful for extra funding. “Last year they gave us additional funding in the middle of the year,” she said. “It’s going to help a lot of people.”

Raisor recommended people call ahead to schedule an appointment. The agency’snumber is (502) 845-7808.

E-mail us about this article at news@hclocal.com.