Saving $150-200 on monthly expenses is a good thing for anyone; but for Jane, who participated in our Weatherization Program, that savings was the difference between living comfortably and the stress and discomfort of not being able to meet her monthly bills.
Jane bought a modest home in 2015 and was doing fine until a breast cancer diagnosis meant that she was not able to work as much during major surgeries and treatments. With less income, she was struggling to maintain her home. She kept the heat low to save money and put up with the drafts. “I was so tight on my bills that I would not have been able to keep the house,” Jane said.
Jane heard of BCOC’s weatherization program through her contacts at the Department of Welfare. She first applied for LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program), a federal low income energy assistance program that offers cash grants for fuel and crisis assistance for those with broken heaters, or facing electricity shut-off or a fuel shortage. That contact led her to BCOC’s weatherization program, a free program for eligible low-income Bucks County residents. Funding partners include the U.S. Department of Energy; U. S. Department of Health and Human Services; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and BCOC.
To be eligible for the Weatherization Program, clients must have earned less than 200% of the federal poverty level for the previous 12 months. For example, a single person making less than $24,980 is eligible; for a family of four, that income must be less than $51,500.
BCOC conducted an energy audit of Jane’s home to see what could be done to reduce her energy bills. Cost saving measures vary from home to home, but can include caulking windows, adding weatherization strips or insulation, tuning the heater, and replacing light bulbs with more energy efficient ones. In some cases, inefficient water heaters or refrigerators can be replaced through cooperation with PECO. The work on Jane’s home also included sealing up and insulating the attic, wrapping pipes, adding a bathroom fan, and attic ventilation.
Throughout the process, Jane was given educational materials that outlined ways to reduce energy use and therefore reduce costs. She also learned of the health benefits of air flow, ventilation to reduce mold, and the use of smoke detectors. “I am so thrilled with the results; life is comfortable again,” Jane said. Jane receives regular audits from PECO and is proud that her usage has gone down. “It has made me more energy conscious and the savings are unbelievable.”
“I am so grateful for the Opportunity Council and especially Chris and Owen,” she added. (Chris is the Senior Home Energy Auditor; Owen, a Home Energy Auditor.) “Chris and Owen explained everything, told me what would happen next, and followed-up to check the work. They are remarkable people who really care.”
Today, Jane’s cancer is in remission, and she is living comfortably in a home she can maintain– thanks to Chris and Owen, and the Bucks County Opportunity Council’s Weatherization Program.