Salvation Army to offer home energy workshop

Published 10:19 pm Thursday, December 2, 2010

It is that time of year again.

For many, with colder temperatures often come additional worries as energy costs increase and heating bills pile up, sometimes becoming harder and harder to pay.

Michigan Energy Options, a non-profit organization dedicated to energy-efficient and sustainability programs, in partnership with the Salvation Army, will present a special energy optimization workshop at the Niles Senior Center, 1109 Bell Rd., Monday from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

The workshop is open to the public at no cost.

“We wanted to get the word out about (various) programs,” said Becky Jo Farrington, education and outreach manager for Michigan Energy Options. In terms of “energy saving and bill assistance, we particularly have some programs that can help folks who need (for example) a new furnace or weatherizing them home.”

Farrington said the organization can even help in some cases with a “home energy weatherization check-up.”

Though qualifications are necessary for some of those programs, Farrington said there are several options for those who are interested in saving on their heating bills.

“We’ll be talking just generally about weatherization,” she said. “To look at your behaviors, look at your bills.”

It would seem those in need of such information are many.

“Historically, I have not had funds available to me in the past until January” for assistance, said Jan Nowak-Lumm. This year, funds came “earlier than usual.”

“The limited appointments we have fill so quickly and people are already in dire straits,” she said. “Probably the most tragic part for me that I’ve seen this year, is that people are in a critical state sooner.

“What breaks my heart is when they come in and they’re in shut-off for $70,” Nowak-Lumm said. “That just speaks to the fragility of people’s circumstances these days.”

Farrington said another aspect of the workshop will be giving attendees information on how to look at their home energy bills and track the consumption and the costs.

“We think that (information is) very necessary,” Farrington said. “People are definitely in need of the type of knowledge so they can be in control of their energy costs. Especially for those families who don’t have that extra money to spend on the heat.”

For the Salvation Army, the workshop provides an opportunity for the organization to be behind something that helps people on the “front end of the story,” Nowak-Lumm said — a proactive move before situations turn troublesome.

“We’re just really, really, really pleased that we can facilitate this,” she said.