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By Matt Logan

Correspondent

LaFAYETTE, Ga. -- As cold weather descends upon North Georgia and the Tennessee Valley again, the importance of weatherizing homes becomes more urgent than ever.

The economic downturn, however, has made it difficult for many families to make the needed improvements.

That's where the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority comes in. The GEFA coordinates the Weatherization Program, which funnels federal stimulus funds throughout the state to those most in need.

Last year, 2,467 homes were weatherized by local contractors working with the GEFA, according to the agency's Web site.

Crews replace old windows, caulk and weather-strip door and window frames, install storm windows, insulate attics, and perform many other energy saving repairs on the homes of elderly, disabled, and low-income Georgians.

In addition to helping keep those in need warm during the winter, weatherizing keeps homes cool in the summer and helps save energy costs every month, year round. The expected lifetime energy savings for a weatherized home is around $6,000 and the investment return is $1.41 in energy savings for every $1 spent GEFA facts note.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more info on applying for weatherization: www.gefa.org/

For contractors interested in weatherizing: www.waptac.org/

DO IT YOURSELF

* Replace single-pane windows with double pane windows or install storm windows.

* Make sure your chimney flue is shut tight.

* Insulate basements and attics to stop loss of warm air.

* Check for wind leaks by holding a lit candle up to windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, and other locations. Caulk or weather strip any leaks.

Source: Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority

While helping the people who need help in tough times, the program also creates jobs for workers across the whole state. For every $1 million invested, 52 jobs are created.

The push to weatherize homes has also created a vibrant research industry that is growing rapidly and inspiring increased research into energy saving techniques that will continue to help cut down energy bills, help the environment, and create jobs.

The GEFA also runs the Weatherization Assistance Program Technical Assistance Center for contractors who work with the Weatherization Program.

The WAPTAC provides contractors or prospective contractors with training, funding information, state regulations and appliance guides.

Matt Logan is based in Walker County. Contact him at mcl3535@gmail.com.

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