State and local officials celebrate Kansas reaching a major weatherization milestone at Westkan Apartments recently in Liberal. Courtesy photo
• Special to the Daily Leader
Kansas has reached a major milestone under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) – completing weatherization work for more than 50 percent of the homes the state planned to weatherize. As of Nov. 24, weatherization providers completed more than 3,000 homes with Recovery Act funding.
During ceremonies at Westkan Apartments in Liberal and Townsite Apartments in Burlingame, officials with Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC) reported weatherization providers are upgrading homes at the network’s optimal rate.
“We’ve hit the accelerator on the weatherization program, and as of today, have made 3,053 homes more energy efficient,” Gary Allsup, KHRC’s Executive Director, said. “We’re moving full speed ahead to meet our original target of weatherizing 5,820 units statewide.”
Congress allocated $56 million to Kansas from the Recovery Act to complete weatherization services by 2012. The state also receives annual weatherization funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. Combining ARRA with traditional funding from 2009 and 2010, weatherization providers have completed a total of 4,561 homes, well ahead of DOE performance goals.
State Representative William Prescott said the Recovery Act was intended to fund critical repair and rehabilitation projects and the weatherization program fits this requirement.
“Weatherization fulfills not just a want, but a true need. It improves livability and comfort, and the monthly energy savings will pay off substantially over the long term,” Prescott said.
Kansas’ efforts are contributing to the success of the weatherization program nationally. The Department of Energy recently announced the number of homes completed by the end of the year could top 300,000 units. In regards to job creation, DOE estimates the weatherization program supported more than 13,000 jobs in the second quarter of 2010, including 113 jobs in Kansas.
Regulations allow per-home cost of repairs and improvements to reach $6,500. However, Kansas providers are currently averaging $5,375 per home. Due to this efficiency in service, KHRC now expects to weatherize 1,054 more homes than originally estimated or a total of 6,875 units, nearly 20 percent over initial projections.
State Representative Carl Holmes of Liberal said conserving energy is a win-win for the country and for every person individually.
“The first step in planning our country’s future energy supply is to reduce our current consumption of energy,” Holmes said. “I hope homeowners, commercial building owners and rental property owners will use the weatherization program as an example for their energy conservation goals.”
Mayor of Liberal Tim Long believes weatherizing homes and apartments constitutes taxpayer dollars well spent.
“Conserving energy has to be at the forefront of everything we do. It reduces utility bills and keeps rents affordable – both of which are important to thriving communities,” Long said.
In Liberal, weatherization providers upgraded Westkan’s 110 units at a cost of $775,128. In Burlingame, 50 apartments were completed at a cost of $250,817. Repairs included installing new heating and cooling systems, water heaters, windows and Energy Star appliances such as refrigerators.
Weatherization provides housing improvements that increase energy efficiency in income-eligible, single- or multi-family dwellings, including manufactured homes. Local community action agencies administer the weatherization program on behalf of KHRC. Services may include weather-stripping and/or caulking around windows and doors; cleaning, testing, repairs or replacement of heating and/or cooling systems; refrigerator testing and possible replacement; adding insulation to walls, ceilings or foundation areas; infiltration reduction and addressing indoor air quality issues.
For more information about the Weatherization Assistance Program, contact KHRC at 1-800-752-4422. Kansas Housing Resources Corporation is a public corporation that finances and develops affordable housing opportunities for low and moderate-income residents throughout Kansas.