The PACS Weatherization program is designed to provide energy conservation improvements to clients' homes while offering a safe and healthy environment and reducing clients' heating and cooling costs.

It serves the nine counties of the Pennyrile region and through the years has attracted "lots and lots and lots" of participants.

"You get so many things done to your home that can help you energy-wise save money on your heat bills, your electric bills (or) your gas," said Susan Marsh, weatherization director at the Pennyrile Allied Community Services, of that agency's weatherization program.

She said eligible residents can sign up for the program at any time during the year simply by calling the PACS office at (270) 886-6341.

Supported through grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the PACS weatherization program provides free energy services to low-income individuals who qualify after going through an application process.

Through the program, clients can have insulation installed in the walls, floors and attics of their homes. They can have their hot water heaters insulated and ground covering installed in their crawl spaces.

Duct work can be sealed or repaired if necessary.

Heating systems can be checked and, if they are not functioning properly, repaired or even replaced in some instances.

"We always install carbon monoxide detectors or smoke detectors," added Marsh, as she shared some of the services the program offers.

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Marsh said numerous people have benefited from the weatherization program through the years, and she noted that she probably has a hundred applications from people waiting to take part in it now.

The process is a long one, according to Marsh, taking two or three months at the least and longer than that in most instances.

But Marsh said it's worth it because the program works, providing an opportunity to address many things in clients' homes that aren't safe.

"A huge electrical problem, we can't do," she explained of the program that's been serving residents of the Pennyrile for some 15 years or longer. "But something simple, we possibly can. We can't guarantee we can, but we try our best. It truly helps them out."

Marsh said individuals interested in the program need to call PACS and speak to Alpha Downs or Monike Love in the agency's community service block grant office to schedule an appointment.

For that appointment, applicants need to have certain pieces of information including their annual salary, proof of income and, for everyone living in the home, Social Security numbers and birthdates.

Additionally, if a person is unemployed, he or she must bring a notarized zero income form. Homeowners must have a deed including the individual's name and address; renters need an agreement signed by their landlord stating that it's OK for PACS to perform the work.

Marsh noted that a person's answers on the application are scored using a points system, with the greater number of points placing an applicant's name at the top of the list to receive assistance.

The application is followed with a home inspection, and the state then determines eligibility utilizing a computer system. Work orders are sent to contractors, with the lowest bids usually getting the contracts.

Work begins with attention to heating and air conditioning first.

Marsh noted that her agency can hold an application for a year; applicants who haven't been served may then repeat the process.

Additionally, clients whose homes have been weatherized by the PACS weatherization program prior to Sept. 30, 2012, may reapply to receive additional services through the program, Marsh said.

She noted that the program can help its clients in so many ways.

"It really helps," she said. "Any time we can help someone who is less fortunate than we are, we are willing to do it."

Call the PACS office for more information, to sign up for an appointment or to find out what to bring for an appointment.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.

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