Lowering energy bills while adding to the overall comfort of residences across the High Country is paramount to WAMY Community Action’s weatherization program.
The program works to reduce energy consumption by identifying leaks in the home’s envelope through an energy audit and other cost-effective measures to ensure health and safety in homes throughout Watauga, Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties, hence the acronym, WAMY.
The weatherization program was added to the community action’s list of assistance programs following the oil embargo of 1976.
“It was a good fit up here because … the housing stock that we currently have is outdated, inefficient and, in some cases, dangerous,” weatherization coordinator Andy Bryant said. “After we have completed weatherization, the homes operate safer, healthier, more efficient and are more comfortable for the occupant.”
Decades of service to needy residents have yielded positive returns in the quality of life in recipients, as well as some unexpected consequences and close calls. One of Bryant’s most endearing stories involves saving the lives of one local couple from carbon monoxide poisoning following the installation of a detector.
Other beneficiaries of the program were able to heat their homes when other operable means were not readily available or safety measures that prevented small children from encountering lead or asbestos poisoning.
“The impact in Watauga County is seen through people being able to afford their energy bills and utilize the money they save annually to go toward items of necessity,” Bryant said. “Ultimately, weatherization lessens the amount of fossil fuels being used to heat homes, saves on the electric bill, reduces water consumption, creates healthier indoor air quality environments and supports the local economy by utilizing local contractors and goods.”
Alleviation to people’s pocket books and wallets is another added perk.
“Most people can’t believe how much differently their homes operate post weatherization,” Bryant said. “We are consistently told by clients that their bills are half of what they were the previous year.”
Unlike “do it yourself” tips and pointers, the weatherization program is more than a quick fix, and the results are recurring.
“This program gives year after (year) for the lifetime of the house, and not many people can say that they see annual savings for the rest of a home’s lifespan,” Bryant said. “This program is designed to give priority to those that need it most — elderly, disabled, high-energy burdened homes and households with young children.”
The weatherization program received a shot in the arm in 2009 with additional funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“We would love to expand the program and are always looking for complementary programs and funders so that we can extend our services to more families that need it,” Bryant said.
For more information on WAMY and the weatherization program, call (828) 264-2421 or visit http://www.wamycommunityaction.org. - See more