Fran Enders is now much more comfortable in her mobile home in Newfield, where for the last 20 years she has lived with her husband, Don, and their dog, Lamby.
Over the course of last summer, Fran, 75, and Don, 89, who are both retired, took advantage of a number of free energy-related programs which have greatly contributed to their home’s comfort, as well as to its safety and lower energy bills. Fran said she her feet could tell the difference. “I can walk in my stocking feet and not have my slippers on.”
The Enders’ story began when Gibrian Hagood, an educator from Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, visited her neighborhood sharing information about a program that offered free energy efficiency education. The information shared included learning how to install simple energy improvements like window wraps, LED light bulbs or weatherstripping.
Through Gibrian , Fran and Don learned about several free programs that can help homeowners and renters reduce their energy use, including the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and Empower NY, two free federal and state programs which both help seal air leaks, increase insulation, and replace inefficient lighting and appliances. They also learned about the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which along with help paying for utility bills can help repair and replace heating equipment, and provide air-conditioning for people with certain medical conditions. Gibrian’s assistance made it easy for them to fill out the applications for WAP, Empower NY and an air conditioner through HEAP.
Within a few months, Tompkins Community Action, which administers WAP in Tompkins County, had performed an energy audit on their home and outlined what work could be completed within the programs. The list was impressive.
Tompkins Community Action replaced their furnace with a much more efficient model, installed a new refrigerator, hood over the stove, thermostat, and energy-efficient light bulbs, and properly vented the clothes dryer. They also replaced and secured registers in the floors, helped insulate the underside of the floor in their home, and ensured the water heater was working properly. They also qualified for a brand new air conditioner. All of this was free of charge, as the Enders’ were income eligible.
She said the process of installation was hassle-free, noting that she recommended that her neighbors check to see if they were also eligible for the program.
“It’s worth checking into. When you get a new refrigerator and a new air conditioner and a new furnace--my gracious, what more can you ask for? You know, these will last us probably the rest of our lives.”
She added that someone from the program visited their home later to check to make sure everything had been installed properly.
“I will advise anyone that’s interested to check into it, and you know we had very good luck,” She said. “The people were very nice and very efficient and helpful, and I think it’s a great, great program. I’m so happy that I found out about it.”
Don said it was Fran’s lack of commentary that signified the efficiency and success of the program. “I never heard her complain, so they had to be good,” Don said.
Fran also said living in a mobile home can present unique challenges to getting involved in programs like WAP. This is because although she and Don own the mobile home, they rent the lot that the home rests on. She said she found the program to be incredibly inclusive in terms of offering services to many different types of Tompkins County residents. “I don’t know of any other programs when you’re eligible when you own a mobile home,” Fran said.
Fran said that since the work was done, their home is significantly warmer than it was before. Fran thinks that the work done will also significantly lower her heating costs, but hasn’t seen a bill yet since they receive HEAP, which helps them pay for their home heating costs. Her next bill will be in March, however, and she thinks the savings will be reflected there.
She also said that she does research to figure out how to conserve energy in her home. She tries to use her microwave more than her stove, for example. “She’s always doing things like that to see what she can save,” Don said. “You should see the coupons she gets out of the paper and everything!”
Don said that the highlight of his day is going out to breakfast with Fran, something which he says is possible through money-saving programs like WAP. “I like to let people know how much this helps us,” Don said, “We have gotten a lot of help, I’ll tell you, oh boy, from a lot of places.”
Interview and article by Margaret McAden, Get Your GreenBack intern
Learn more about energy efficiency programs and how to apply here.