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Program gives family a warm feeling

Thursday, August 18, 2011

ATTLEBORO - Michele Norville's home used to be so cold in some rooms in the winter that her family would bundle up at night and sleep next to the heating unit. The cost of heating the Wilmarth Street house was going through the roof.

But last winter she got her home insulated for free through the state's Weatherization Assistance Program, paid for with federal stimulus money, and now her house is warm and her heating bill lower.

She said a work crew came to her house an installed insulation in the attic and walls. She guessed she saved about $600 last winter as a result of the improvements.

"This is great," she said. "The house is warm, and we're saving money. It's wonderful, but not too many people know about the program."

At least 10,000 people knew about it because that is is how many homes the state says have been insulated through the program. State officials celebrated hitting the 10,000 figure this week. "This important milestone means that 10,000 families across the Commonwealth are now saving money on bills, using less energy, and creating a greener future for the next generation," Gov. Deval Patrick. "This is another example of how President Obama's Recovery Act has stimulated local economies and created jobs across Massachusetts."

Massachusetts received $125 million for the program to be stretched over three years. The goal is to make improvements in 20,000 homes for income-eligible families to save them an average of $700 a year in heating costs.

The funding was included in the $800 billion economic stimulus package Obama got passed in his first year in office. Patrick estimates Massachusetts state agencies have received $7 billion from the bill, including the funding for weatherizing homes.

The idea was to spend money on worthwhile projects to help put people back to work.

The Patrick administration said the weatherization program alone has resulted in paychecks for 3,000 individuals and has given work to 150 companies.

The program was run by local nonprofit agencies such as Self Help Inc., which hired contractors such as Advanced Windows of Brockton and Kelly Insulation of Middleboro to do the work. Donald King of Park Street in Attleboro said he is so pleased with the improvements made to his house that he urges his friends to do it.

"I would recommend it to anyone. As a mater of fact, I do recommend it all the time," he said.

He said a man came to his house to test its energy efficiency and found where heat was escaping.

A two-man crew then arrived an sealed all the windows, doors and holes where pipes come through the wall or floor, he said. Later the first man came back to inspect the work.

"It's a good program. I'm delighted," he said.

Jim Hand
The Sun Chronicle