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Kevin Granger's home was built in the 1950s without insulation. BCAC weatherized the home in January, which has cut his heating bills in half.

Dalton Home Among 10,000 'Weatherized' Across State

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Dalton resident Kevin Granger did not expect weatherization would reduce his utility bills as much as it did.
DALTON, Mass. — When Kevin Granger does not hear his furnace kick on he still wonders if it is broken.

But it does not need to turn on as often since the Berkshire Community Action Council weatherized his home.

"I wanted to put in insulation but I didn't don't how to go about doing it," the single parent said on Monday. "I didn't expect to see as big of a difference as there is — especially in the winter."

Granger is a disabled truck driver and parent of two just trying to make ends meet. When he moved into his Dalton home seven years ago, the house had no insulation and old windows.

He was told about BCAC's weatherization program about two years ago and threw his name on the list. In January, the council sent Northrup Construction into his home to perform thousands of dollars worth of upgrades.

"Someone from BCAC came with a guy from Northrup Buildings and figured out what they wanted to do. I had nothing to do with it," Granger said.

It took five days and a crew of five workers to cut Granger's utility bills nearly in half.

Work started with an energy audit to find the weak points. In the basement, three windows were replaced, the walls were wrapped in a vapor barrier and cracks in the heating system were repaired. In Granger's kitchen another window that was rotted out and the back door were replaced. In the attic, 38 bags of insulation were layered over the ceiling.

"In the summertime before they did this, it was like 100 degrees all the time and now it's cool," Granger said in one of his upstairs room. "The air conditioning doesn't work half as much as it used to."

All of the homes on Granger's street were built without insulation during the postwar boom of the 1950s and since Granger purchased the house, he has wanted to upgrade its energy efficiency.

"When I had it done, everybody [on the street] was interested in what I was doing," Granger said.

Granger is just one of 10,000 Massachusetts residents to receive weatherization from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, more commonly known as the stimulus package, that gave a boost to the BCAC's program. Last week, the state celebrated its 10,000th weatherized home, in Gloucester, on its quest to weatherize 20,000 from $125 million in funding over three years.

"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 in a press release announcing the halfway mark. "This is another example of how President Obama's Recovery Act has stimulated local economies and created jobs across Massachusetts."

BCAC has been running a weatherization program since 1979 and more than 5,000 homes have been retro-fitted in Berkshire County. The program is open to anybody who is eligible for the federal fuel assistance program BCAC also operates.

Dave Lachowski, energy director for BCAC, said the organization received a $2 million contract in 2009 from the stimulus package and about 500 homes locally will be weatherized through it. As of July 275 homes were weatherized with $1.1 million, he said, and an additional 110 homes are already contracted to be retro-fitted. Two-thirds of the homes were for residents over 60 years old.

"We're going about 200 weatherizations per year," Lachowski said. "The requests are there. Well beyond what we can do in a year."

BCAC averages about $5,000 on each home but the contract is set to expire in March.

Granger waited a year and a half to make it to the top of the list but said it was "definitely worth it."

Tags: energy,   weatherization,   

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