Stephanie East
Stephanie East fell in love with her house in Gloucester the moment she saw it. As a single mother of two young children - ages six and nine - she had moved around a lot in an effort to save money on rent and wanted a stable place to raise her son and daughter.

Recovery Act Impact: Weatherization

  • Weatherization Assistance Program in MA: $125 million

  • 10,000 homes weatherized

  • 2,383 public housing units weatherized

  • 549 Expiring Use/ Preservation Special Projects units weatherized

  • Projected total: 20,000 units weatherized in MA

  • The average savings per weatherized home is 35% or $700 per home annually for fuel oil

East knew the house needed some work, but when winter came and heating oil bills started coming in, she realized the work needed was more than she had anticipated.

"That first winter, I couldn't keep oil in the tank," she said. Trying to cut back on the oil bills, East kept the thermostat set as low as possible. The house, she said, was freezing. She even hung thick blankets between different parts of the open-concept main floor, hoping to block off the areas that were losing the most heat.

Stephanie East with Secretary Jay Gonzalez and Jeffrey Simon
"I was stunned. We were just flying through oil, at $600 or $700 per bill," she said.

East used what little savings she had to replace some of the windows in the home, putting the expense on her credit card and hoping to be eligible for energy efficiency tax credits. But after losing her job, it turned out that her income was too low to qualify and she was stuck with the full bill.

After East confided about her situation to a friend, she learned about Action, Inc., the anti poverty organization that serves the North Shore.

"We sat down and had a heart-to-heart," she said. "It's a hard conversation to have. I don't really look like someone who's struggling. All of our furniture is second-hand, and I buy the kids' clothes from the Salvation Army. They don't know what's been going on. I try my best to make the house look nice and do what I can with what I have."

Stephanie East with Senator Bruce Tarr
East qualified for fuel assistance with her heating bills but after her position was eliminated at the non profit agency she worked at, she learned about the agency's increased weatherization services program, thanks to stimulus funds.

The Recovery Act's Weatherization Assistance Program in Massachusetts received $125M over 3 years and will result in approximately 20,000 weatherized units, exceeding the original goal by over 3,000 units. A milestone was reached recently with 10,000 traditional homes being weatherized under the Recovery Act's Weatherization Assistance Program. The Gloucester-based Action was awarded $8.5M in the Recovery Act's Weatherization Assistance Program funding. Since the beginning of the Recovery Act, ACTION has overseen weatherization improvements to 1,008 homes, working with 25 local contractors.

"I was so excited and grateful when I got the call and learned that they'd be able

Stephanie East speaking at a Weatherization Event at her home
to come look at the house," said East.

One of Action's Building Performance Specialists visited East's home, scanned the walls for insulation, checked out the doors and windows, tested the heating system, and put together a list of measures to provide to local weatherization contractor John Call who runs Home Energy Inc. Call had nearly closed his company when he learned about ARRA WAP which needed contractors. He is now back up to five employees.

It turned out that the home was barely insulated, the windows and doors were leaking air, and the heating system was old and worn-out. Call plans to put in attic and sidewall insulation, duct sealing, ventilation, heating system maintenance and possible window replacements.

"I feel extremely honored and grateful," said East. "I am a working single mom trying to do the best I can. Now I can afford to stay in my house."