“I mean, people didn’t know what I was going through. I just was ashamed.”
Community service agencies say many low- and moderate-income homes in the Commonwealth are unprepared for the winter cold and could benefit from a number of free weatherization and heating services, including window sealing, attic insulation, new appliances and repairing or replacing home heating systems.
Eva Haynes, who lives in Brockton, said she is grateful for the help she received two years ago, when her furnace stopped working, and she spent nine days at home alone in the cold.
“I had googled, ‘How to keep your house warm when you have no heat,’ ” Haynes recounted. “I mean, people didn’t know what I was going through. I just was ashamed.”
The website is run by the Massachusetts Association for Community Action, a coalition of more than 20 agencies throughout the Commonwealth, which are reporting unprecedented requests for home heating assistance, and have found many people are unaware of the free home energy audits.
Jonathan Carlson, CEO of Self Help, which serves communities in southeastern Massachusetts, said both the audits and the savings are extensive.
“You know when we leave, that house is about as efficient as it can get, as far as holding in heat,” Carlson asserted.
Carlson pointed out it also keeps homes cool in the summer, adding up to even more savings over time. The average single-family, weatherized home saves at least $283 a year on energy costs.
The benefits of weatherizing a home go beyond the pocketbook. Improving the energy efficiency of older homes in low-income neighborhoods means more jobs and a cleaner environment.
Research indicates for every dollar invested in weatherization programs, nearly three go back into the community.
Liz Berube, executive director of Citizens for Citizens, serving the greater Fall River and Taunton area, said agencies statewide have jobs to offer.
“Electricians, plumbers, there’s a lot of money in energy efficiency,” Berube noted.
Berube added weatherizing older homes means people, especially seniors, can stay in their homes longer and communities stay intact. In addition to federal funding, the group has requested an additional $50 million from the state to ensure people have access to energy-saving programs.
Kathryn Carley began her career in community radio, and is happy to be back, covering the New England region for Public News Service. Getting her start at KFAI in Minneapolis, Carley graduated from the University of Minnesota and then worked as a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio, focusing on energy and agriculture. Moving to Washington, D.C., she filed stories for The Pacifica Network News and The Pacifica Report. Later Carley worked as News Host for New York Public Radio, WNYC as well as Co-Anchor for Newsweek’s long running radio program, Newsweek on Air. Carley also served as News Anchor for New York Times Radio. She now lives near Boston, MA.