Vietnam Veteran Improves Comfort and Saves Money through Efficiency Upgrades

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Under Governor Martin O’Malley’s “EmPOWER Maryland” initiative, the State will reduce energy consumption by 15 percent by 2015.

Before making energy efficiency upgrades to his home, the only ways David Hale and his teenaged daughter could escape the heat were to duck into air-conditioned stores or to go swimming. During June, July, and August, they virtually never stopped sweating in their doublewide manufactured home in Deep Run Park in Elkridge. The culprits for this overheating were inadequate insulation and poor weatherization coupled with a 27-year-old heat pump that Hale describes as being “on its last legs.” Fans didn’t help much. “When it’s hot,” said Hale, “fans just blow hot air.”

Using a $36,500 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), the Community Action Council of Howard County (CAC) was able to help Hale by providing $4,480 of weatherization assistance. Now, the 65-year-old Vietnam veteran can sit in his favorite chair and feel cool air blow all around him even when the outdoor temperature hits triple digits. “It’s very comfortable in my home now,” said Hale.

The CAC used grant funding from MEA’s EmPOWERing Clean Energy Communities Low- to Moderate-Income Grant Program to seal every nook and cranny of Hale’s home with caulk and to insulate his attic. In addition, the duct work under his home, which had been leaking uncontrollably, was sealed, and a cover was placed around it. Other energy-saving features of the project included a water heating blanket and low-flow showerheads and aerators. The new features save Hale $300-$500 per month.

Benefits of the improvements are not limited to the summer. "I don't know what it's going to be like this winter,” said Hale, “but I imagine it will be nice and warm."

Kathleen True, Weatherization Program Support for CAC remarked, “The Weatherization Assistance Program does more than save energy and green our environment; it makes a difference in the lives of the recipients.” True recalls Hale’s situation. “I thought, ‘this is a man who really needs help, and without the MEA grant, he probably will not get it.’”

This grant program is part of the EmPOWER Maryland initiative, and is funded through the Strategic Energy Investment Fund (SEIF). SEIF funds come from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The SEIF fund statute requires that at least 46 percent of funds be used for energy efficiency and conservation programs, projects, or activities and demand response programs. Half of its allocation is targeted to low-to-moderate income Marylanders. The grant funds were divided among the Maryland counties, with $36,500 available for Howard County in fiscal year 2011.

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