Low-income families often live in homes or rental units that are not energy efficient.

Often, these households must make the difficult decision to cut back on healthcare, medicine, groceries or childcare in order to pay their energy bills. One program that provides services to make homes energy efficient, safer and more comfortable, and improve indoor air quality, is the Weatherization Assistance Program.

Here in the Coulee Region, Couleecap operates the weatherization program in Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties. In 2016, Couleecap completed weatherization services on 204 homes. The average annual cost savings per home is $640, or $13,180 over the life of the measures installed.

For every $1 invested in weatherization, $1.72 is generated in energy savings benefits and $2.78 is generated in non-energy savings benefits.

Weatherization measures continue to save money and energy year after year and increase household incomes so funds can go toward key living expenses.

Everyone should be able to live in decent, safe, affordable housing.

Some ways you can help address housing needs and issues in your area include encouraging low-income households to apply for heating assistance, so that they may also benefit from the Weatherization Program; making a donation to Couleecap’s housing and homeless assistance programs -- your donation will provide rent, utility bill, and home repair assistance to low-income households in our area; educating yourself about housing needs and issues in your area; and voting for elected officials who are committed to continued funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program and other housing-related programs.

Hetti Brown, La Crosse

Hetti Brown is  executive director of Couleecap.