When the mountain winters hit for the last 12 years, Michael Shepard and his family had only a wood stove in their house for heat, plus a few kerosene heaters when the stove didn’t do the trick.
Michael’s diagnosis as a diabetic, coupled with a shoulder injury, left him disabled, resulting in his early retirement. Relying on a wood stove with a serious shoulder injury meant getting heat in Michael’s Bluefield, W.Va., home was a struggle.
“It was cold, just using wood heat, and my wife had to carry it in for me,” he says.
After applying for and receiving weatherization assistance from Community Action of South Eastern West Virginia last year, though, his lifestyle at home has changed. The agency updated old electrical wiring in Michael’s home, installed a new hot water tank, weather strips, insulation in previously uninsulated walls and the attic, and, perhaps most importantly, an electric furnace.
Michael worried before about keeping his family safe and warm during freezing temperatures. Now, his 12-year-old daughter is comfortable when doing her homework, and Michael doesn’t have to wake up three times in the middle of the night to try to keep a fire going.
“The comfort level is great, and comparing my electric bill with what I would’ve spent on wood, I’m saving money,” he says. “If anyone hasn’t had their home weatherized yet, they should’ve done it a long time ago.”