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August 16, 2011

Local house project hailed as 'win-win' via stimulus

The winter will come easier for Stephanie East.

East, a single mother of two children, lives in an old house down Laurel Street in West Gloucester, and worried that, like last year, the snow would fall and oil prices wouldn't.

Last winter, she recalled Tuesday, she burned through about a tank of oil a month, and had trouble dealing with her heating bills.

This year, East said she's looking to come out a little better — about 33 percent better.

East's home is being hailed as the 10,000th home that's being weatherized with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — Federal stimulus — funding. She went to Action Inc. in Gloucester to find out about the non-profit's fuel assistance programs for struggling families, found herself on the list for weatherization.

"It's something not to have to worry about," she said.

She bought her home last summer, but didn't expect her heating bills to hit the level they did. East said she kept her thermostat around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and still burned through oil. Through Action, and a contractor from Haverhill, East's home will be air-sealed to prevent her furnace from inadvertently heating the great outdoors, and fully insulated. She's also getting ice-dam repair to fix some of the damage caused by last winter's heavy snow.

All of the work's funded by stimulus funding.

The project also helped put contractor John Call, of Haverhill, back in business. At the peak of the recession, Call said his crew shrunk down to one other employee. He said he'd done insulation work in his early years, before he started building houses. Call said he contacted Action, and added that he'd done work with weatherization for them years ago, and started doing it again.

Now, he's hired three new employees, and said he finished East's attic insulation on Monday.

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