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Residents in need give weatherization program warm reception

Monday, August 22, 2011

FALL RIVER —Nancy Savitch remembers the cold winters when she and her grandchildren wrapped themselves in sweaters and blankets to keep warm in the house.

“They were freezing,” Savitch said. “It was horrible.”

The old windows in her Swansea home were rattling in the wind. The oil had to be filled every couple of weeks, each time costing $300 to $500 or more. Because the house was so old — it once belonged to her great-great-grandmother — it wasn’t properly insulated.

“I couldn’t afford to have it done,” Savitch said. “I’m a disabled grandmother raising three kids.”

Savitch was already getting fuel assistance from Citizens for Citizens Inc. in Fall River.

She applied for its weatherization program a few years ago, but was put on a waiting list. Last year, when funding was added due to the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, Savitch was contacted to receive the assistance.

Contractors replaced five old windows in her home last fall, added insulation in the home’s walls and even added weather stripping.

“The house was so toasty,” Savitch said. “It didn’t cost me a cent.”

Savitch said she filled her oil tank only three times last winter.

Madeleine Cormier, weatherization director for CFC, said most people save about 25 percent on their winter heating bill after weatherization. And, it helps their fuel assistance go further, too.

“It’s going to keep the house a lot warmer,” Cormier said.

CFC has completed weatherization on about 1,270 homes in the Fall River, New Bedford and Taunton areas and all the towns between. It will complete 500 more by March of 2012.

The Patrick-Murray Administration announced Wednesday that the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act’s Weatherization Assistance Program has reached a milestone of weatherizing 10,000 homes in the state.

“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 said. “This is another example of how President Obama’s Recovery Act has stimulated local economies and created jobs across Massachusetts.”

Cormier said CFC now works with eight licensed contracting firms to complete the weatherization process, up from four before the Recovery Act.

“It really does help the local economy,” Cormier said.

The state’s Recovery Act Weatherization Assistance Program includes $125 million in funding over three years that will result in about 20,000 weatherized units upon completion.

The weatherization program is available to people who qualify for fuel assistance.

Income guidelines are as follows: For a household of one, gross income must be at or below $2,410 for four weeks or $31,218 per year; a household of two can make up to $3,140 per four week period or $40,824 in a year; a household of three must have income at or below $3,879 per four week period or $50,249 per year.

For information on larger families or other questions about fuel assistance or weatherization, call the CFC office at 508-676-7397 or 508-676-7398. Visit

Deborah Allard
The Herald News