By Jessica Mathews /

More low-income families in Livingston County and across the state are now able to take advantage of a program that provides free home weatherization to help reduce energy costs.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has $5 million available from the U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program to pay for home repairs that are sometimes needed before weatherization services can be provided.

Officials say many homes in a state of disrepair cannot take advantage of weatherization funds. Those situations would often lead to a deferral – where an otherwise eligible home would not receive weatherization repairs or services because the materials installed could be compromised.

In a weatherization job, energy auditors use computerized software and advanced diagnostic equipment to create a comprehensive energy analysis of a home, which determines the most cost-effective measures to install in each home. Some include insulation, air sealing of key leakage junctures, and installations such as lighting and water-saving measures.

Health and safety issues such as elevated levels of carbon monoxide, moisture problems, mold, ventilation needs, and heating systems safety and efficiency are also addressed.

Anyone interested in applying for the Weatherization Assistance Program, even if they may have a reason for deferral, can contact their local provider. Eligibility is based on household income and home condition.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed February as “Keep Michigan Warm Month”. She said many families have suffered financial hardships due to the pandemic and have put off maintenance that needs to be addressed before their homes can be weatherized and she urges those families to take advantage of the new services.

More information is available in the provided link.