The Osceola Council on Aging offers the Weatherization Assistance Program to help those who qualify make their homes more energy efficient. PHOTO/COUNCIL ON AGING

Whether it be our Central Florida hurricane season, the extensive rainy summer months or simply when temperatures outside rise or drop below normal, the Osceola Council on Aging (OCOA) wants to make sure residents of our community are safe and secure in their homes. To support that process, the OCOA, along with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, hosts a Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) for residences owned and occupied by low-income families, the disabled, Veterans, and the elderly residing in both Osceola and Orange counties.

According to Energy. gov, WAP is the single largest residential energy efficiency program in the country, operating for more than 40 years. Accordingly, the nationwide initiative helps the most vulnerable families across the country while producing local jobs in many of those regions. The programs’ primary purpose is “to increase energy efficiency of dwellings owned or occupied by low-income persons, reduce residential energy expenditures, and improve the health and safety, especially of lowincome persons who are particularly vulnerable such as the elderly, the disabled, and children.”

WAP focuses on making homes more energy efficient and safe with the mission of reducing monthly energy costs. Weatherization projects may include repairing windows, insulating ducts, attics, and floors, performing conservation and energy audits on appliances, replacing heating, cooling and water heater units while advising clients on energy conservation measures.

WAP provides core program funding to all 50 states, District of Columbia, Native American Tribes, and five U.S. territories through formula grants. Once funding has been awarded, all states, tribes, and territories contract with roughly 700 local organizations nationwide for contract work. Just as the OCOA, these organizations use inhouse crews and private contractors to perform weatherization services for residents.

In addition to helping households, WAP also helps revitalize communities by spurring economic growth and reducing environmental impact. Weatherization returns $2.78 in nonenergy benefits for every $1 invested into the program. Non-energy benefits represent tremendous gains for families whose homes receive weatherization services.

Both Orange and Osceola County residents who income-qualify for the Weatherization Assistance Program should apply through the Osceola Council on Aging.

To apply, contact the Osceola Council on Aging by calling 407-933-9543, or email The Barney E. Veal Center is located at 700 Generation Point, Kissimmee, FL 34744.

Wendy Ford is the President/CEO of the Osceola Council on Aging.

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Published Tuesday, October 19, 2021