SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

December 3, 2012

Cold winter months shouldn't mean cold homes

NSCAP programs help those struggling with heating bills

Doug Cranford knows firsthand that it’s not easy being out of work.

In 2009, he was cut loose from a nine-year job in commercial real estate and wondered how he’d pay his bills, especially with winter coming. When he heard about a new training program offered through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to put people like him back to work in new jobs, he signed up.

Now, Cranford works as an energy auditor at North Shore Community Action Program in Peabody helping others pay their bills. As the colder months approach, most area residents struggling with rising heating costs aren’t always aware of specific programs that offer fuel and weatherization assistance, Cranford said. Especially for people who’ve unexpectedly lost their jobs or for seniors on fixed incomes, Cranford says NSCAP programs and other municipal assistance programs offer help that can make a big difference.

“We’ll come out to someone’s home and do a safety check, making sure the heating system is running efficiently,” he said. “We’ll look in the attic, scan the walls, look for air leakage and do as much as we can to give folks a warm, comfortable and safe place to live.”

That also includes repairing or replacing appliances through a program called HEARTWAP (Heating Emergency Assistance Retrofit Task Weatherization Assistance Program). When one client, for instance, lost his information technology job and the boiler in his Salem home went out, Cranford went out for a home audit. He discovered that the client and his family had used space heaters for months, which increased their electricity bill. Cranford arranged for insulation work, for a new energy-efficient boiler and refrigerator to be delivered, and to switch the light bulbs in the house with energy-efficient ones.

“They’re set for the winter now,” Cranford said.

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