Since buying her doublewide mobile home in 2003, LaMona Linder has struggled to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
There were multiple reasons for the discomfort she felt in her 1990 home located in Elkridge: a heater and air conditioner that worked only intermittently, a leaking roof, as well as deteriorated ductwork and insulation.
Because Mrs. Linder was able to tolerate sleeping at temperatures hovering around 60 degrees, she was able to curl up in heavy blankets and sleep in her bedroom at night.
To keep indoor temperatures tolerable in the summer, Mrs. Linder ran two window air conditioners continuously – one in her dining room and the other in her living room. That alone was not enough to stay cool – she had to keep a fan blowing in her bedroom doorway to circulate the air from the air conditioners and she had to close two of her bedroom doors so warm air from them would not escape.
Now, Mrs. Linder’s days of struggling with home temperature issues are a thing of the past. Even when January 2018 temperatures hovered well below normal, she felt warm and cozy in her 1990 doublewide mobile home, no matter which room she was in.
The reason for the dramatic improvement is that Mrs. Linder had weatherization work done on her home in early 2017.
She started the process by submitting an application to the Maryland Energy Assistance Program. The Weatherization Programs are administered by the State of Maryland and funded annually by the U.S. Department of Energy, utility companies and other sources. These programs reduce energy costs for low-income, elderly, and disabled people.
After Mrs. Linder’s application was approved, the Community Action Council of Howard County (CAC) conducted a comprehensive energy audit of her home and cost-effective weatherization measures were then installed by two companies contracted by CAC. She got a new heater and air conditioner, as well as new ductwork and insulation. The total cost was $10,263. Mrs. Linder did not have to pay a penny.
She’s completely happy with the work. “The new air conditioner is fantastic,” she extols. “It performs.” As for staying warm in the winter, “I’m thrilled. It’s as comfortable as it can be,” she stated.
She took the three days when her home was uprooted while the contract weatherization work was done in stride. “When you’re suffocating in the summer and freezing in the winter, you don’t mind the mess,” she said. After the workers cleaned up, they left Mrs. Linder with a spotless home, she reported.
Mrs. Linder says she has experienced a “huge difference” in her energy bills. Her propane cost has dropped to about a third of what it was from before the weatherization work was done.
Kathleen True, Weatherization Program Coordinator for CAC commented, “The Weatherization Department of CAC helps hundreds of Howard County residents every year, many in similar situations. The benefits provided not only make the homes more comfortable, but it saves an average of $400 or more per year in energy costs. It is particularly satisfying to have an impact on families with young children, disabled persons and seniors on a limited income. They tend to be the most vulnerable.”
Addition to the contract work, the non-profit organization Rebuilding Together in Howard County (formerly known as Christmas in April) replaced her roof along with making other improvements in Mrs. Linder’s home in April 2017.
The weatherization and roof replacement helped Mrs. Linder but her financial problems run deep. She receives only $900 a month from Social Security. Even with the energy assistance she receives from CAC and a lower energy bill, she constantly seeks financial assistance from the Salvation Army, several churches, and other sources.
Full-time employment at this point in her life does not seem possible. The divorced mother sought employment for two and half years after being laid off in 2008 but her eclectic mix of past work over the years from alphabetizing IBM cards to counting cars for traffic surveys did not land her a job.
Two years ago, she received help from the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS). That organization assessed her financial situation and qualified her for bankruptcy bypass because she could not possibly pay her credit card debt that had accumulated while she was job hunting. MVLS notified her creditors and most credit card companies stopped calling her and threatening to sue her, which Mrs. Linder said was an enormous relief.
The weatherization to her home was another relief. It reduced her energy bills and moderated the temperature she feels at home no matter what room she’s in or what the outdoor thermometer reads.