Low-income homes get extra wrap Program insulates, saves energy


When Roland "Bubby" Wilson is not out catching bass, he may be found basking in the sun in his favorite chair in the bay window of his living room.

Mr. Wilson, 65, a retired truck driver and construction worker from Taneytown, didn't always have it so cozy. The apartment is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer since it was weatherized by the Carroll County weatherization office, with the help of the Potomac Edison Co.'s Weatherization Residential Assistance Program.

The program, known as WRAP, pays for weatherization for low-income residents in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

"It makes a difference," said Mr. Wilson. "I would highly recommend it."

WRAP has helped 1,153 people since its start eight years ago.

The program's 1993 goal is to weatherize 150 homes in the three states. Last year, WRAP paid for weatherization of 173 homes in the three states.

"We do a lot of work for seniors," said Tom Childs, rehabilitation manager at the weatherization office in the Carroll County Bureau of Housing and Community Development.

With help from WRAP, the county insulated Mr. Wilson's ceiling and walls, weather-stripped his door and replaced his drafty old windows with new, double-paned windows.

In addition to better temperature control, the new double-pane windows muffle some of the noise of Taneytown's main street.

"It seems like they don't steam up," Mr. Wilson said of the windows, and they are easier to clean.

WRAP has helped weatherize about 25 homes and apartments in Carroll County since the program started eight years ago, Mr. Childs said.

Weatherization often reduces a home's energy consumption by 10 percent to 15 percent, he said. The actual improvement depends on the weather, the lifestyle of the residents and the initial condition of the home.

In 1992, Mr. Childs said, the income eligibility limit for the WRAP program was 150 percent of poverty level, or a household income of $17,355 for a family of three. The limit increased only slightly this year, he said.

When a person qualifies for the program, Potomac Edison will pay up to $500 toward weatherization costs. In the future, landlords will be asked to pay part of the costs.

The power company's incentive is to save energy. Power companies are under federal mandate to conserve energy, and conservation helps delay the need for expensive new power plants.

"It's cheaper," said Roger Young, a residential applications specialist with Potomac Edison. He said an investment of $1,000 toward conservation can save as much as $2,000 in power plant construction costs.

Now is the time to think about weatherizing your home, Mr. Childs said.

"People usually wait until it gets really cold, and by the time they get serviced it's April," he said.

People interested in the program may call the Carroll County weatherization office at 848-9707 or 876-5253.

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