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Nelsonville finds energy efficiency benefits go beyond savings

Monday, February 13, 2017

Weatherize Nelsonville initiative has benefited the Nelsonville Food Cupboard
When a whole community gets together to save energy, the impact on the community and environment can be significant. Through the Weatherize Nelsonville initiative, Nelsonville is experiencing the positive impact of energy efficiency first-hand, and it’s not just energy savings.

The money we save on utility costs will go to buy more food,” said Margaret Sheskey, owner of the Nelsonville Food Cupboard, a food pantry that has been serving the Athens community since 1989. Their building is more than 100 years old and contains an apartment that was using more natural gas than a single-family home. Through Weatherize Nelsonville, we partnered to provide the building with energy efficient upgrades, address health and safety concerns and increase comfort for the tenants in the building. The food pantry also received a natural gas stove to provide its patrons with nutrition classes. 

“The Weatherize Nelsonville program has transformed the Nelsonville Food Cupboard,” Margaret said. “Each dollar saved will buy five pounds of food at our local food bank. This will make an amazing difference for our client families – now well over 500 households each month.”

Weatherize Nelsonville was launched in October 2015 to lower energy usage and bills for residents and businesses in the city of Nelsonville. It’s an initiative of the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD) with partners including HAPCAP (Hocking Athens Perry Community Action Program), the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, AEP and Columbia Gas of Ohio.

Participating in our energy efficiency programs
Through this effort, which is still active, our residential natural gas customers in Nelsomville are encouraged to participate in our Home Energy Audit program. Our WarmChoice weatherization program is offered to income-eligible customers. 

Home Energy Audits, normally $50, are provided at $20. Out of pocket costs for energy-saving insulation and air sealing upgrades are capped at $300. For income-eligible renters having their homes weatherized through the WarmChoice program, the landlord contribution is negotiable and may be waived in cases where the renter pays the natural gas bill. 

Nelsonville was selected for this initiative due to its high average energy usage per home, the area median income of residents and the strong existing partnerships between the participating agencies. In addition to the high quality energy-saving programs delivered through this partnership, customers also received safety checks of their homes, allowing COH to deliver on its commitment to help make its customers’ homes more energy efficient, affordable and safe. 

The results
Since October 2015, 136 homes have been weatherized through this initiative, equaling 55,219 Mcf in lifetime natural gas savings. The carbon dioxide reduction is equivalent to the amount sequestered by 2,860 acres of U.S. forests in one year. COAD has been a critical partner in delivering energy efficiency services on behalf of COH due to the number of income-eligible customers in the area. 

A similar initiative was implemented by COAD in Murray City in Hocking County in 2012. The Weatherize Murray City project won the Andromeda Award from Alliance to Save Energy due to its innovative approach to weatherizing an entire town by combining several different energy-efficiency and home repair programs. 
To learn more about Weatherize Nelsonville, visit the Nelsonville Chamber of Commerce website