Scotlandville resident Gloria Hawkins, 71, used to get up at 3 a.m. to cook breakfast so heat from the kitchen wouldn’t circulate around her house during the day.
Before she received assistance from the free Home Weatherization Assistance Program , Hawkins said she and her family suffered in heat, especially when they used kitchen appliances.
“I couldn’t even turn the oven on to cook cornbread or anything. It’d get so hot,” Hawkins said. “All the heat would just stay in the living room where we sit.”
But the blistering room temperatures have ceased, thanks to the Quad Area Community Agency, one of the weatherization service providers in southeast Louisiana.
The program allows anyone who qualifies to access part of a federally-funded pot of $3.5 billion, part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, to weatherize their home for free.
In late July, the agency installed a two-part foam insulation in Hawkins’ attic and in the front of her house. It also installed a new refrigerator and air conditioner, along with new shower heads, LED light bulbs, smoke detectors and kitchen hood vents, Hawkins said.
It didn’t take long for her to notice immediate changes, starting with less sweating.
“In fact, I don’t sweat at all now,” she said. “I don’t have to put a towel around my neck when I cook in the morning. I can sleep more and cook later in the mornings because of the new vents that pull heat out the kitchen.”
Other home improvements on Hawkins’ house included ductwork repairing and weatherstripping to reduce air infiltration.
Hawkins said she used to have to put towels under her door to keep the hot air out in the summer and cold air out in the winter, but the weatherization help has made that unnecessary.
Beyond making life more comfortable for residents, the program’s home adjustments improve heating and cooling efficiency, comfort level and air quality, which can reduce energy costs.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, cost-effective efficiency improvements can reduce energy consumption in low-income households by 13% to 31%.
Hawkins said she hasn’t received a new Entergy bill since the improvements to her home, but she is looking forward to seeing what difference has been made.
“But what I can say is that my house is cool now,” Hawkins assured.
She said she found out about the free program from her brother in-law. For more information, she attended the Center for Planning Excellence’s May 21 event at the Jewel J. Newman Community Center to register.
In partnership with the Quad Area agency and East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council member Chauna Banks, the center hosted three outreach events throughout the summer to help residents submit their home weatherization applications. Almost 200 applications were submitted, according to center project manager Lyneisha Jackson.
People who missed registration can still apply, Jackson said. Scotlandville residents can access applications from the Jewel J. Newman Community Center, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Scotlandville Branch and the Center for Planning Excellence website, she added.
“I’m happy people are getting the help they really need,” Jackson said. “This is a part of our job.”
Hawkins said she recommends people sign up. She said she has lived in Scotlandville her entire life. Her longtime heat problems were solved in about four hours of weatherization services, Hawkins said.
“I just want to appreciate them for what they did because it’s a lifesaver,” Hawkins said. “I’m glad I listened to my brother in-law.”
Not a Scotlandville resident? You may still be eligible for home weatherization. For more information, contact the Quad Area Community Agency at (225) 209-0780. According to the eligibility chart, a family of four with a monthly income of $4,416 or less is eligible to apply for the free weatherization. Review application guidelines and required information at https://www.lhc.la.gov/weatherization-assistance-program-wap