Editorial: In Praise of Weatherization

September 01, 2005
September/October 2005
A version of this article appears in the September/October 2005 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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Home Energy receives dozens of e-mails each month from people who find out about us through our Web site, maybe read an article or two from our archives, and write us about problems they are having in their homes and apartments. We have a stock response, something like “We’re a small nonprofit with limited resources and we can’t always respond to your e-mails...”We also try to give more specific information when we can, especially to our subscribers.

Some of the e-mails break our hearts. Here is a composite: “Dear Home Energy, If you can't help me, I pray you can suggest someone who can. We are an elderly couple living on a fixed income. Recently I smelled gas in the house…” More often than not, our response involves connecting people with a home performance professional we know who works in the same area as the person sending the e-mail. Most often that professional is from the local weatherization agency. We are thankful that there is a Weatherization program, and that we have the option of sending our e-mail correspondents to knowledgeable service people who can help them. These requests for help remind us how important it is for us to support our readers who are out in the field every day, wiping cobwebs out of their hair and doing their best to create safe and affordable housing for everyone, no matter what their income or station in life.

One of my all-time favorite Home Energy articles was written by Talmon Haywood (“More Than Just Patching Holes,” Mar/Apr ’02, p. 42).At the time, Haywood was the weatherization coordinator for the Community Action Program of Evansville (CAPE) in Indiana—he was waiting for a big record deal to come along and perhaps it has by now. However, what Haywood wrote then about his experience working with the Weatherization program was,“When I found I was going into people’s homes and making a difference in their lives, it wasn’t about the money anymore.” He inspired me. Weatherization work and our work at Home Energy isn’t just a job; it's a vocation.

While weatherization works house to house, the effects become multiplied across the nation. For every $1 spent on
weatherization,U.S. citizens receive close to $1.50 in economic benefits. Weatherization has global benefits as well, and not just those benefits having to do with cutting down greenhouse gas emissions. Last year I attended the Energy Out West conference in Sacramento. During a question-and-answer period, someone stood up and said,“I think all of us here
are fighting terrorism. We’re making our country less dependent on unstable foreign governments that control much of the world’s energy resources.” Weatherization measures save the equivalent of 18 million barrels of oil every year in the United States. Every Weatherization program employee is contributing to making our country less dependent on a finite resource, and we consider that work critical to our country's future.

An article in this issue, “Energy Efficiency Through Education and Low-Cost Measures” (p.10) talks about the bigpicture, positive effects of weatherization programs on people’s lives. Another article, “More Wrestling with Recessed-Can Lights” (p.30) offers a relatively simple and inexpensive way to stop recessed-can lights from leaking air and energy into attics.We hope you find these articles inspiring and helpful. We hope to feature more stories similar to Haywood's in
future issues of Home Energy. We want to hear more about what our readers—especially those of you with dirty knees and scraped elbows from crawling under houses every day—are doing to help the kind of people who write to us for help. Call us or send us email with your case studies; share your experiences of challenges met and problems solved. Don’t forget to mention the mistakes that caused you to learn along the way—I guarantee you that someone reading your story will nod his or her head in sympathy.

—Jim Gunshinan
Managing Editor

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