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  Typical Improvements

Do It Yourself Improvements
There are many low-cost and no-cost energy efficiency improvements you can make. You can conduct a simple home energy assessment yourself by using the resources listed below or learn about home energy audits and find free tools and calculators at The Energy Saver, the Residential Services Network, or the Building Performance Institute.

Energy Savers Guide
Ahorre Energía en español
Home Energy Audits
Renter Energy Saving Tips


Possible Home Weatherization Improvements
If you meet the income requirements and are approved for weatherization assistance services in Nebraska, your home will be evaluated to identify the most effective energy and dollar saving improvements which can be made. The amount of money that can be spent on each home is limited, so all of the improvements listed below may not be made in each home.
  • Added insulation to the attic, walls and/or floors. If insulation is added, holes may be drilled in the siding and vents may be added to the roof. RESULT: The amount of heat loss through the walls, ceilings and floors will be reduced.
  • Perform an efficiency inspection on natural gas, propane and fuel oil furnaces, boilers and water heaters. RESULT: More heat will be gained from the same amount of fuel used.
  • Replace broken glass in primary windows. RESULT: The amount of cold air coming in will be reduced.
  • Install or adjust door weatherstripping, thresholds, and/or door sweeps. RESULT: The amount of cold air coming in will be reduced.
After the improvements are made, you should notice the following:
  • An increase in comfort — reduced drafts and a more even temperature throughout your home.
  • Your heating and cooling bills should be reduced.
  • You should need less energy to heat and cool your home.

Weatherization: What to Expect
Many weatherization service providers utilize "whole house weatherization." Under this approach, providers evaluate the house as a single energy-consuming system, rather than a loose collection of unrelated systems. This approach finds the best combination of methods for reducing total energy consumption in a house.

The first step in whole-house weatherization, and perhaps most important one, is to evaluate a house. Trained technicians use advanced computer software and diagnostic equipment to identify the most cost-effective energy-saving improvements for a particular home during an energy audit.

Air Leakage Control
Reducing the leakage of cold outside air into the house in winter — or hot outside air in the summer — is the most common type of weatherization improvement made in a home. Typically, work crews add caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors to reduce drafts. Old, drafty homes are not only uncomfortable, but they are also very costly to heat and cool.

Tests using blower doors reveal more precisely the holes in the building envelope where outside air infiltrates into the house. Such holes often occur near the base of the building and near the roof and are unobservable to the naked eye.

Blower Door
The blower door is one of many tools that is used to assess a home for health, safety, durability and energy efficiency. With the assistance of a blower door, air leakage tests are conducted to measure and quantify the air tightness of a house. The blower door will depressurize the house, sending air out through a fan and bringing air in from leaks in the building’s exterior.

With the readings from the gauges and house volume calculations, how well a home is ventilated can be determined. At this point, technicians walk around and look for the leaks in the building envelope. Sealing leaks to the exterior of the home — and blower door testing after the leaks have been sealed — will quantify the results and assess the need for additional sealing.

Insulation
Making sure there is enough insulation in the walls, foundation and roof — anywhere there is a barrier between the home and the outside — is one of the most important ways to make a home energy efficient. As a result, insulation is a part of almost every weatherization project.

Installing insulation with a uniform coverage and density is very important because the wall cavities are like chimneys. Air leakage can greatly reduce insulation’s thermal performance. The installer must inspect walls for structural soundness of the home before any insulation is added.

Heating Efficiency Improvements
In some cases, furnaces may be replaced because of cracked heat exchangers or severe malfunction. Removing such hazards from homes reduces fires, injuries and health problems for occupants.

A safety inspection of the heating system is performed first, including:

  • Test for carbon monoxide in the air in the living space and in the combustion appliance zone.
  • Check for fuel leaks using a combustible gas detector.
  • Inspect the wiring to the appliance.
  • Check the vent connections and clearances.
  • Inspect for safety devices

A combustion test is performed to collect information on safety and efficiency. The system is also tested to make sure it does not backdraft in adverse conditions, such as when all the ventilation fans are operating in the house. Fans can have an impact on the how well a heating system vents.

Improving Health and Safety
Weatherization work crews always examine energy-related health and safety issues in the home. This is especially important when dealing with heating equipment because faulty equipment can be hazardous to those who live there.

Client Education
An important component of the weatherization process is client education. Client lifestyle choices can play a big role in determining the amount of energy and money actually saved. Clients are provided with tips on saving energy and information on how to maintain the energy efficiency improvements that have been made.



    Frequently Asked Questions

What is weatherization?

Weatherization makes homes more energy efficient. Weatherization of a home typically involves the installation of attic, wall and floor insulation and sealing holes and cracks with caulking, weather-stripping and other types of materials. In addition, all furnaces, cooking stoves and water heaters receive a safety inspection. Weatherization services do not include roof replacement, siding repairs or replacement windows.

Who is eligible to receive weatherization services?
An estimated 51,000 Nebraska households are eligible for weatherization assistance services. Preference is given to persons over 60, persons with disabilities, and families with children under six.

Eligibility is limited to households with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Eligibility income levels rise based on the number of persons living in the home. Income guidelines are listed here. Households containing a member who is receiving either Aid to Dependent Children or Supplemental Security Income are automatically eligible to receive services.

How can I receive home weatherization services?
Nine, non-profit organizations provide local weatherization services. They are responsible for establishing eligibility, performing an energy audit on the residence and scheduling the weatherization work. Click here to find the weatherization provider in your area.

Congress provides funds for weatherization assistance which varies from year to year. Please be patient if you are put on a waiting list. Your home will be weatherized as soon as possible. Click here to learn the average number of homes weatherized in your area.

Are renters eligible for weatherization services?
Yes, both homeowners and renters are eligible, whether you live in a single-family home, multi-family housing complex, or a mobile home, you can apply for assistance. However, renters must receive written permission from their landlords to weatherize their homes or rental units.

Is there a charge for weatherization services?
All weatherization services are provided at no cost. However, if a furnace or water heater in a rental home is found to be unsafe, it is the responsibility of the property owner to replace or repair the appliance before weatherization of the home can begin.

Can mobile homes be weatherized?
Yes, typical improvements to mobile homes include underbelly insulation, storm windows and sealing air leaks.

Does weatherization reduce heating bills?
Weatherization reduces your energy bills for a long time. After a home has been weatherized, energy used for heating is often reduced by up to 25 percent. Some improvements, such as insulating your walls or attic, for example, will continue to provide savings for the lifetime of the home -- 30 years or more. Other improvements, such as making heating or cooling equipment more efficient, will provide savings for 10 to 15 years. On average, the value of the weatherization improvements to a house is 2.2 times greater than the cost of the improvement itself.

Can a home receive weatherization services every year?
A home may be weatherized only once, except that homes weatherized before October 1, 1993 may be reweatherized.

What are the alternatives to waiting for weatherization assistance?

  • The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP may be an option. You may be eligible for short-term assistance on your utility bill.
  • Assistance to individuals in a natural disaster may be another, but limited, option. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, provides a number of services to assist individuals who are victims of a natural disaster. These services include low-interest loans, some cash grants, and links to assistance from other agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and Farm Service Agency.
  • Dollar and Energy Saving Loans may be an option for making home weatherization improvements. Any improvement that can be completed under the weatherization program can also be financed with loans from the Energy Office and participating lenders. There are no income restrictions for loans. Lenders determine an applicant's credit worthiness.

What happens to a home that is weatherized?
Staff from your local or regional community action agency conducts an assessment or energy audit of the home. The agency is a nonprofit local weatherization or regional agency trained in home weatherization. The energy audit is a computerized assessment of your home's energy use and an analysis of which energy saving improvements are best for your home.

Once the audit is complete, the auditor or weatherization staff member will meet with the homeowner or renter to explain how the work crews will conduct the work. Depending on the assessment, some homes will receive more work than others. The average value of weatherization services provided is $6,500.

Throughout the weatherization process, the health and safety of a household is a priority. Following the weatherization, a Weatherization Assistance Program Inspector will visit to make certain that everything is working properly and that nothing was missed. Learn how specific home weatherization improvements save energy.


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