More East Texans eligible for free home energy program

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Retired Grapeland school teacher Bobbie Jones hasn't seen an energy bill over $100 since Greater East Texas Community Action Program (GETCAP) weatherized her home. An energy efficient heater is what Jones is enjoying right now.

"It really keeps the house warm. I can light this heater and let it stay on at least two hours and I can cut it off," said Jones, who used to wear heavy clothing and pile the quilts on her bed when sleeping. "I don't need no heat."

Jones' home qualified because it didn't need extensive electrical and plumbing work. The house did need new insulation, caulking, window seals and screens which Community Action provided free of charge through the use of federal stimulus funds.

"I could just consider I got a new house because it is so much warmer and I just enjoy it so much better," said Jones.

Before the improvements, the 74 year old woman would listen to the wind as it blew through cracks around the windows and under the door. She would heat her kitchen with stove burners.

"I knew that wasn't right, but when you're cold you do everything you can," said Jones. "Now I'm just as warm as can be."

Testing equipment called a Blower Door scientifically proves what Jones feels in the comfort of her own home.

"What I'm trying to do is suck all the air from the outside into the house that will tell us where we have all of the air leaks in the house," explained weatherization coordinator, Kelsey Roberts. "It depressurizes the house." Few leaks are detected.

The weatherization program has a list of applicants, but there's enough money to accept new ones.

"The income guideline has gone up. It's up to 200% of federal poverty, so of a family of 4 that's $44,000 a year," said Karen Swenson, executive director for GETCAP.

The program is currently targeting Angelina County with plans to move to Nacogdoches County soon. Qualified residents living in eight other East Texas counties are eligible for the free improvements.

Jones' patience of waiting for the funding to come through is paying off. She doesn't worry about heating costs nor summer cooling expenses.

"I just don't know how to act when I can save some of my money," smiled Jones.

There is no cost to the individual for these services. For more information call 800-621-5746 or visit your local Community Action office.

Community action provides weatherization in 10 counties.

More information or to get application:  or call 564-2491 or 800-621-5746

Weatherization services are offered in Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity, Houston, Angelina, Nacogdoches, Rusk, Cherokee, Gregg and Wood counties.

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