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AEP Ohio’s Community Assistance Program recognized for providing comfort and savings to low-income families

by on February 14, 2014
This photo depicts heat leaking from a typical house in the winter. The white, yellow and red colors show heat escaping.Source: Energy.gov.

(Story by Deborah F. White)

WELLSVILLE, Ohio — Linda L. of Wellsville is a single mom raising a 13-year-old daughter. Like a lot of families in Ohio affected by the economic downtown, Linda lost her job a couple years ago. Although she had been working on-call as a substitute teacher until she was able to obtain a full-time job, she struggled to pay her bills.

Linda also struggled with keeping her home warm during the bitterly-cold wintry months.

The home she lives in is a large two-story structure that is difficult to heat. During a one-year period the home consumed 1700 cubic feet of natural gas. At today’s rates, that amounts to about $816 per year. According to Columbia Gas of Ohio, the average home uses just under 800 cubic feet. Linda’s home used more than twice the average amount of natural gas, an indication that energy is being wasted through air leaks.

Through AEP Ohio’s Community Assistance Program (CAP), Linda was able to obtain free energy efficiency improvements and repair services for her home, helping to make it much more comfortable while saving her money on energy costs.

“We are really trying to get the word out to the community that there is assistance and funds out there for those who need help,” explained Janet Rehberg, program manager for AEP Ohio’s Community Assistance Program. “Customers who are income-eligible and enrolled in a payment assistance program can qualify to receive a home energy assessment, attic and wall insulation, air sealing, appliance replacements and other energy-saving improvements to help make their homes warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. These improvements help customers save on their heating and electric bills, freeing up money to spend on other necessities.”

After applying and being accepted into the program, an in-home energy assessment was conducted to determine where Linda’s home was losing energy and what improvement measures should be implemented.

As part of the assessment, a blower door test which was performed in the home revealed a reading of 8309, confirming extensive air leakage. Caulking was placed around the home’s  walls and windows and insulation was added to the attic and interior walls. Linda’s home also received energy efficient lighting and a new furnace, hot water tank and sump pump.

According to Rehberg, the weatherization process takes about 2 to 3 days. After all improvements were made, a final blower door test indicated a reading of 3325, demonstrating a 60 percent decrease in air leakage — a significant improvement in energy efficiency of the home.

Ron Rees, executive director – Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development, presents Janet Rehberg of AEP Ohio with an award recognizing AEP Ohio for its outstanding leadership in energy efficiency. Senator Joe Schiavoni, Senate District 33, who passed a resolution acknowledging AEP Ohio for providing assistance to low-income families in the Southeastern Ohio region and Carol Bretz, executive director of Community Action Agency of Columbiana County also are present.

“Based on past studies, it’s possible that these weatherization measures will help reduce Linda’s home energy use by as much as 50 percent and save her up to $400 per year,” Rehberg noted.

Last year, AEP Ohio, along with the Community Action Agency of Columbia County, the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD)* and other regional partners, provided weatherization services to more than 88,000 low-income families in the Southeastern Ohio region.

In recognition of the company’s leadership in improving energy savings, safety and comfort to families in the region, AEP Ohio was honored by COAD with the Outstanding Industry Leadership in Energy Efficiency award.

Senator Joe Schiavoni, Senate District 33, named October 2013 as Energy Action Month and  paid tribute to AEP Ohio by passing a resolution recognizing the company’s Community Assistance Program for improving the quality of life for low-income families in the Southeastern Ohio region by providing comfort, reducing energy costs and eliminating health and safety hazards.

“AEP Ohio is honored to receive this recognition because this is a program that provides a win-win situation for everyone,” Rehberg said. “By making someone’s home energy efficient, not only do we help customers, but also we help create jobs and stimulate the economy. And by reducing energy consumption, we also help the environment.”

Learn more about income requirements for AEP Ohio’s Community Assistance Program.

To participate in the program, customers should contact their local community-based agency or AEP Ohio’s customer operations center at 1-800-672-2231.

Follow-up info on Linda L.:
Linda’s home was part of a weatherization showcase held in Wellsville to demonstrate the benefits of weatherization and explain how the process works to the community. During the showcase, Linda presented her resume to Carol Bretz, executive director of the Community Action Agency of Columbiana County, who also was in attendance. Bretz ended up hiring Linda as the lead teacher at the East Liverpool Head Start. According to Bretz, Linda is doing well and likes working for the agency.

* COAD is a private, non-profit community-based organization serving rural, mostly Appalachian, counties in eastern and southern Ohio. It is made up of 17 Community Action agencies that serve a 30-county area.

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