OPINION

Weatherization Month's a great reminder of how communities thrive through caring for others

Jessie Thompson
Guest Columnist
Jessie Thompson

October, for all its tricks and treats, is a great deal more important for Oklahoma homeowners than we realize. It’s also National Weatherization Month, with the 45th Annual Weatherization Day falling on Oct. 30. Both are noteworthy in bringing awareness to the importance of weatherizing homes before the harsh winter months, especially for families living in older homes.

According to a survey done by HomeMethod.com, the average age of homes in Oklahoma County is three years older than the state average. As houses age, repairs and renovations may be needed for compliance, safety and efficiency purposes.  Community Action Agency of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma and Canadian County’s (CAA) Weatherization Program hopes to help create permanent solutions for those in need of increasing energy efficiency in their homes, as well as address various health and safety issues, such as installing carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

The lack of energy-efficient homes — and high utility bills as a result — disproportionately affect low-income people and families. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, low-income households typically spend 16.3% of their total annual income on energy costs, causing them to cut back on more important things, such as child care, groceries, health care and more. Each year, more than 182,000 low-income households receive energy assistance funds from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

CAA’s Weatherization Program has a goal of creating more energy-efficient homes for the clients it serves; however, additional benefits can be seen for not only the home dwellers but for the community. When CAA weatherizes a home, the beneficiaries save an average of $40 a month in energy bills, which can help reduce individual poverty, make a positive impact on local employment and increase the number of energy-efficient homes in Oklahoma.

I see people from all walks of life, with different needs, wants and challenges. Some are looking to create a better future for their children, some want to start a business and some need adequate shelter to put them on the path to achieve their dreams.

Weatherization of homes has an indirect effect on all of us. If a home can be updated so that it uses less energy, we can ultimately lower energy costs for all of us. The program offers beneficiaries a way to permanently save money for use within Oklahoma’s economy and helps them focus on needs like health, education, medical and more to increase their well-being.

As Oklahomans, we are known for the care we show one another, and CAA’s Weatherization Program provides the tools and resources to increase self-sufficiency among those who are at a disadvantage within our community.

After an application is submitted and approved, Weatherization Program experts begin with a whole home survey. The survey defines the necessary services needed to create efficiencies and will help save the homeowner money in the long run. Our dedicated team ensures all pieces that can be fixed are completed and maintained before moving onto the next home. Priority within the program is given to seniors, those with disabilities and families with children. Income limits also are applicable.

To apply for weatherization assistance, go to  https://www.caaofokc.org/services/housing-services/weatherization/.

Jessie Thompson is executive director of Community Action Agency (CAA) of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma/Canadian Counties Inc.