Many families across Oklahoma are cranking up their thermostats as cold weather sets in.

But for low-income families, turning up the heat is not always an option. KiBois Community Action reports low income households pay 14 percent of their annual income toward energy costs, compared with 3-1/2 percent for other households.

To help with this problem, KiBois is weatherizing several houses throughout Pittsburg, Latimer, Haskell and LeFlore counties.

One of the houses is on Chestnut Avenu in McAlester. KiBois representatives gathered there Tuesday with District 18 state Rep., Terry Harrison, D-McAlester, District 17 state Rep., Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, and District 7 state Sen. Richard Lerblance, D-Hartshorne.

The group was there to look at progress on the house.

Ken Moore, weatherization coordinator for KiBois, said the first step is to check the house with a blower door test. The test involves a temporary door with a fan in it placed where the front door goes.

“We depressurize the house,” Moore said. “That way we can see where air leakage is in the house. The air leaving the house is measured in cubic feet per minute. We try to reduce that number by sealing the places where air is getting in from outside.

“The first time we did the test 4900 cfm escaped. But since we sheetrocked the ceiling, caulked some windows and insulated the attic, it’s gone down to 2900 because less air is getting in from outside.”

John Jones, KiBois housing director, said the weatherization program is funded with state and federal money as well as funds from the Department of Energy. Jones said KiBois exists to participate in programs like these.

“We’re dedicated to alleviating the causes and effects of poverty,” Jones said. “We’re here to help people change their lives.”

Lerblance said he thinks the project is a great idea.

“Gov. Brad Henry signed a proclamation making Oct. 30 Weatherization Day in Oklahoma,” Lerblance said. “He stresses the importance of these assistance programs. Programs like these help low-income and elderly people decrease their utility costs by making their homes more efficient. It’s a way to help the folks who need help the most.”

Contact Trevor Dunbar at tdunbar@mcalesternews.com

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