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Even with nearly three weeks of summer to go, LuEthel Nesbit of ACTION-Housing says local residents should be getting ready for winter now. Temperatures briefly hit 85 degrees in Downtown McKeesport last week, but more pleasant weather is in store this week for the Mon-Yough area. (Tube City Almanac photo)
Most Mon-Yough residents are probably still savoring the last tastes of summer and hoping for a few remaining barbecues or dips in the swimming pool.
But even though fall is still nearly three weeks away, Lu Ethel Nesbit of ACTION-Housing's weatherization program says now is the time for local residents to get ready for colder temperatures.
Nesbit, who also serves as a McKeesport city councilwoman, has been working in weatherization since 1983, originally with the Steel Valley OIC. She's currently the administrator of ACTION's McKeesport weatherization office, which serves much of the Mon Valley.
"We operate all year-round and we take applications year-round," Nesbit says. "We would prefer that they apply in the summer, so that they don’t have their doors open in the dead of winter, when they’re freezing."
Weatherization repairs are provided free of charge and are paid for by federal funding designed to reduce energy consumption. That's another reason homeowners and renters shouldn't wait, Nesbit says --- each winter, the money is limited, and once it's used up, it's gone until the following year.
Weatherization can include caulking around windows, weatherstripping doors, insulating attics and crawl spaces and sealing anywhere "cold air is coming in and heat is going out," she says.
ACTION also can check heating systems --- boilers or furnaces --- for proper operation, and find out if heat is being lost up chimneys and flue pipes.
ACTION's services are free to people who qualify, and there are income restrictions based on federal guidelines. A single person living alone may earn no more than $24,280, while a family of four's annual income can be up to $50,200.
Both homeowners and people who rent are eligible, but they must have lived at their present address for at least three months. Renters must have permission from their landlords.
The ACTION-Housing weatherization program serves residents of Allegheny, Washington and Greene counties.
Homes that were weatherized prior to 1994 probably need attention again, she says, in part because the technology used to detect energy losses has gotten so much better. Weatherization experts used to have to rely mostly on their own training during walk-through inspections; now, they can measure heat losses electronically.
But older weatherization methods also are suspect, Nesbit says, because any insulating material installed that long ago is probably losing its effectiveness.
"A lot of older homes have sandstone basements that are wearing away, and we fill those in," Nesbit says. "We're talking about sealing any place where cold air's coming into your home, and heat is going out."
For more information about weatherization services offered by ACTION-Housing, call Nesbit at (412) 678-8622, extension 124, or email email@example.com.
Jason Togyer is the editor of The Tube City Almanac and volunteer executive director of Tube City Community Media Inc. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published September 03, 2019.