Everyone talks about the weather
Bernice McGee admits she was skeptical when a friend at church handed her a pamphlet about a free home weatherization program.
There had to be a catch, she thought, because very few things that are worth having are free.
"They're probably going to try to sell something," she said. But she put it on the counter and the next day she called Public Service Co. of Oklahoma to see if she qualified.
She called and she's glad she did. After surveying her home inside and out, Titan ES the company that PSO uses to inspect homes and perform the work showed up and spent four or five hours installing attic insulation and weatherstripping, caulking patio doors and windows and even replacing her light bulb with energy-efficient LED models. And it was all free.
Mary Jackson, senior energy efficiency and consumer program coordinator for PSO in Tulsa, has been with the program since 2010 and said the company upgrades about 2,000 homes every year. So far in 2017 it has weatherized 2,039 homes; 496 have been in the Lawton district, which comprises PSO customers in western Oklahoma, 286 of them in Lawton itself.
Qualifications are pretty straightfoward: The PSO customer must have annual income of $45,000 or less and the house must be 2,000 square feet or less and have been built before 2005. It's only available for single-family homes, but renters qualify if the landlord gives permission.
The work can include attic insulation, weatherstripping and minor duct sealing. The program doesn't include repairs to the heating/air conditioning system.
"We won't do all measures in all houses," she said. "It depends on what the house needs."
The work typically takes two to four hours, and the resident must be there while the work is performed by Titan ES.
""They've be doing this a while, so they're pretty proficient," Jackson said.
This year's budget is $3 million and work is done in all seasons.
"We haven't run out (of money) yet," Jackson said. "I would be happy to run out and ask for more if we needed it."
Jackson said the program helps PSO and all its customers. Damping demand for electricity means the utility doesn't have to build more very expensive power plants.