Bruce and Claudia’s home was slowly killing them. Claudia was experiencing terrible headaches and always seemed to be sick. They just couldn’t figure out why and chalked it up to aging and an aggressive cold/flu season.
In the fall, Bruce and Claudia applied to LIEAP (Low Income Energy Assistance Program) to help keep their winter heating costs down. The couple received an energy credit paid directly to their fuel provider by LIEAP that they could use from November through February to offset their heating bill.
A few weeks ago Bruce and Claudia were contacted by the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) offered through the Council of Community Services. WAP is a branch of LIEAP (facilitated locally) designed to further reduce energy burdens and keep people safe and comfortable in their homes. Bruce and Claudia were interested in receiving an energy audit from WAP, so our crew made their way to the couple’s home northwest of Sheridan.
Using specialized tools and advanced levels of training the Weatherization crew performed an energy audit. In order to determine the energy efficiency of Bruce and Claudia’s home the crew tested for things like air leaks, appliances that were using too much energy, outdated lightbulbs, insulation ratings and placement, and performed health and safety checks. It was during these health and safety checks that one of our auditors noticed a huge problem.
The carbon monoxide levels being emitted from Bruce and Claudia’s water heater were dangerously high. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, and poisonous gas which is emitted when burning natural gas, propane, coal, or other materials that contain carbon. Carbon monoxide is harmful when inhaled because is starves the body, blood, and vital organs (heart, brain) of oxygen. Large amounts of carbon monoxide can cause you to lose consciousness and suffocate.
The Weatherization auditor safely and quickly disconnected the water heater and began to introduce fresh air into the home. The Weatherization auditor then sat down with Bruce and Claudia to explain what was going on. Bruce and Claudia learned that carbon monoxide was dangerously being released into their home. They also learned that some of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning could look very similar to the flu, with things like headache, fatigue, dizziness, or nausea. Claudia was quick to connect the dots and suspected that carbon monoxide was what had been making her sick.
Sure enough, within days of the energy audit Claudia had started to feel better. Her headaches disappeared and she was feeling better than she had in months. A new water heater was professionally installed, and other energy and health and safety measures were taken. The Weatherization crew installed carbon monoxide detectors and new smoke alarms. They also improved the insulation in the attic, replaced outdated and inefficient windowpanes, and updated every lightbulb to an LED blub. These measures provided free of charge will help Bruce and Claudia save money each month on their energy bills. Not only will Bruce and Claudia be able to better afford the home they are in, but they will be able to stay safe and comfortable as well.