Lewis County Opportunities, Inc.  •  8265 State Route 812  •  Lowville, NY  13367
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Weatherization Services

Call 315-376-8202, ext. 5
How To Apply

  An affordable way to make your home more energy efficient!
  About the Weatherization Program
  That Darn Ice Dam
  Tips on how to save energy costs during winter
  Weatherization Crew Praised For Their Courtesy, Quality of Work
  Learning About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Weatherization services help families lower energy bills, stay warmer in winter

As tough as winters are in northern New York, they’re made all the tougher for families who have higher energy bills due to energy inefficient homes. Many, especially the elderly who are on fixed incomes, simply can’t afford to upgrade insulation or improve their home’s heating system, leaving them little choice but to face yet another winter trying to stay warm. But the good news is that dozens of families didn't have to face this situation during this past year, thanks to Opportunities’ Weatherization Services. The program helps eligible families live more affordably by providing energy-saving home repairs, and education on energy conservation and heating system maintenance. Services include hi-tech energy audits, air sealing, insulation, and other measures to raise the efficiency of home heating systems. This doesn’t just mean keeping the home warmer in winter, but also cooler during the hot summer months.

  When a family applies for the program, a Building Analyst visits the home and performs an ‘audit’ or assessment of what it will take to make the home more energy efficient. This includes an air quality test for any gas leaks, drafts in the heating system, and combustion efficiency of the heating system. The Analyst also measures up the square footage of the home, and takes notes on how many windows and doors there are in the home as well as what type they are. The Analyst also checks the insulation value as well as the quality of insulation, and even checks the refrigerator as that may also be energy inefficient. Once the audit is completed, the data is run through a special computer program to determine an ‘investment ratio’ that determines if the home is eligible under the program. If so, and if the family meets other eligibility requirements, work begins on the home once the crew finishes up prior projects.  The time it takes to weatherize a typical home can take as little as one day or as long as a week.

  Weatherization Services is funded under the NYS Homes and Community Renewal and has been operated by Opportunities in Lewis County for over 30 years.

A blower door (seen at the base of the door above) is a machine used to measure the air tightness of a building. It can also be used to measure airflow between building zones, to test duct work air tightness, and to help physically locate air leakage sites in the building envelope.

When working on a home, the crew sometimes needs to track down “insulation voids,” utilizing a diagnostic tool called an Infrared camera. This camera provides a visual indicator of the amount of insulation that is inside a wall cavity by the heat signature left behind. It’s not a thermometer, but it does show a thermal pattern relative to objects nearby.  The picture above was taken with a regular camera.

The image above is of the same wall, however taken with an infrared camera. The wall studs can be seen. This wall appears to have insulation, with some low density pockets near the door and light switches/electrical outlets on the far right. If the image was dark red between the studs, that would indicate little to no insulation in the wall cavity.




That darn ice dam

Winter in northern New York means  cold, snow, and the eventual icicles dangling from roofs. It’s pretty until an ice dam builds up. An ice dam is a hump of ice that forms at the edge of a roof during wintertime conditions. An ice dam can damage both your roof and the inside of your home.

An ice dam forms when a roof gets warm from internal heat loss.  It begins to melt the underside of the layer of snow on the roof.  Water trickles down between the layer of snow and the shingles until it reaches the edge of the roof; which stays cold because it extends beyond the side of the house.  There, the water freezes and gradually grows into a mound of ice.  When an ice dam gets big enough, the melted water backs up behind it and seeps underneath shingles.  Eventually water gets into insulation and travels down into the ceiling and exterior walls.  If the ice dam breaks free, it can pull shingles and gutters off with it and can damage anything it falls on.  None of this sounds very pleasant.

Reactive Measures:

Before an ice dam starts, scrape snow from the roof by using a snow rake. When needed hire someone who knows how to clear snow from a roof.   If an ice dam has formed, attempt to remove it by breaking it free in small chucks. Do not use an ax or other sharp tool!  Instead, tap lightly with a blunt mallet.  This is slow, dangerous work; so hire someone experienced if needed.  Wear goggles for flying ice chunks and be very careful while using ladders.   Melt troughs into the ice dam with calcium chloride ice melter.  Do not use rock salt as it can damage paint, metals, and plants beneath the eave when the salty water drains.  A good trough-maker is a tube of cloth (a leg from an old pair of panty hose works well).  Fill it with calcium chloride, tie off the top, and lay it vertically across the ice dam.  It will slowly melt its way down through the dam, clearing a path for the underlying water to flow free.

Preventive Measures:

An ice dam is a symptom of a bigger problem; a warm roof caused by poor insulation or poor venting.  Minimizing that heat loss and improving venting are treatments to the problem.

Seal air leaks from the living space which lead into the spaces below the roof sheathing.
Add insulation to the exterior walls and ceiling to prevent heat escaping through the ceiling.  Vent the space between the insulation and the roof sheathing so any heat that does leak through is carried away.


Tips for saving on your energy costs during winter
There are many low-cost and no-cost things you can do to save on your heating costs each winter:

·       Reduce your thermostat setting to 68 degrees.
Reducing your thermostat setting can substantially lower your heating costs. Putting on an extra layer of clothing will help you stay comfortable while saving on your heat bill.

·       Reduce your thermostat even further at night and when you leave home.
Setting the thermostat back 10 degrees at night or when the house is unoccupied can save up to 15% on heating costs. The furnace will have to run more to reheat the house, but the energy saved while the home is cooler more than offsets the extra time to reheat the home.

·       Change the furnace filter monthly during the heating season.
Clogged furnace filters lower the heater system's efficiency by preventing proper airflow through the furnace. Low-cost filters are available from your local hardware store. Check filters monthly to see if they need changing.

·       Have the furnace "tuned up".
Having your furnace cleaned and tuned annually helps the heating system operate safely and efficiently. Tuning may involve resetting the fuel-air mixture for proper combustion as well as cleaning of the blower and burners to assure maximum airflow and complete combustion. New furnaces often don't need to be cleaned and tuned for the first few years.

·       Let the sunshine in southern facing windows.
Open curtains on the south side of your home during winter days and close them at night. Sun angles are low in winter, allowing substantial solar heat gain through all southern facing windows.

·       Check and replace weather stripping on doors and windows.
Air leaks around faulty weather stripping on doors and windows not only make your home drafty but they also increase heating costs. Check for drafts, and repair or replace worn stripping.

·       Reduce your hot water use.
Reducing hot water use reduces the cost of heating water. Low-flow showerheads save water and energy. Showers generally use less water than baths. Using the cold water setting on your washing machine and repairing leaky faucets will save on water and water-heating costs.



Weatherization crew praised for their courtesy, quality of work

  It’s not just service; it’s service with a smile. That’s certainly true with the Opportunities’ Weatherization crew, which time and time again receives heart-felt thanks and praise from families whose homes are weatherized through the program. Once such example (illustrated below) arrived in the form of a letter during a recent, particularly harsh winter.



Community Impact At A Glance In 2017, 57 families received Weatherization services to ensure a more energy efficient home.


About the Weatherization program:
The Weatherization Program provides a wide variety of home heating and energy saving services at no cost to income eligible home owners or renters. Automatic income qualifications include Supplemental Security Income, public assistance, food stamps and HEAP.  As a footnote, applicants may still qualify even if the applicant is over the income guidelines, but are receiving one of the benefits mentioned above.
Income eligibility guidelines are based on 60% of the State median income and family size.  Income guidelines are as follows:
Income Guidelines
Effective January 13, 2018; please note income guidelines may be subject to change without notice.
How we can help you as a homeowner or tenant:
  • High-tech energy audits to see where you’re losing heat in your home
  • Testing and cleaning of heating system
  • The addition of insulation
  • Health and safety check of the home
  • Energy efficient lighting
  • Air sealing around doors and windows
  • Repair and/or replacement of broken windows and/or external doors
The following services are performed as needed, based on the analysis by a trained energy auditor:
  • Test, clean and repairs to the heating system
  • The addition of insulation 
  • Repair of broken and/or exterior doors
  • Air sealing as per a blower door test 
Renters can qualify by the 50% rule. If one apartment in a building of two qualifies then weatherization can be done on the whole apartment building. In buildings of more than two apartments, if 66% or 2/3 of the tenants qualify, weatherization can be done on the whole building. Landlords are asked to pay a percentage toward the cost of the weatherization and this amount goes back into the repairs of the units.


How to apply for the Weatherization program:
1. Opportunities provides Weatherization Services within Lewis County.  Please contact our New Bremen Office, at 315-376-8202, extension 5, to obtain an application. Or, email us.
2. Fill out the application completely and return with one month wage statements for entire household.
3. Proof of ownership (deed, tax copy, mortgage, etc.) from a landlord and/or owner.
4. Account numbers and address from both electrical services and fuel suppliers.

Special Feature:

Learning About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Weatherization Health Plus graphic

For more resources on creating a more energy-efficient home, click here (a browser window will open.)
Weatherization Assistance is supported by NYS Homes and Community Renewal.
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