carolyn-ponder_web.jpgOPA-LOCKA — Carolyn Ponder has been struggling to care for her elderly mother and their home in Opa-locka, a city in north Miami-Dade County, has been slowly deteriorating because of lack of finances for repairs.

“In caring for my aging mother it became extremely difficult for me to financially manage the upkeep of our home,” she said.

Ponder got a bit of help from the Weatherization Assistance Program, run by the county’s Community Action Agency (CAA), to improve the energy efficiency of her home.

“We qualified to have the air conditioner replaced with a larger unit, a new energy efficient hot water heater was installed, the windows were tinted and weather stripping was placed around the doors,” Ponder explained.

“Having the a/c and water heater replaced, along with the other energy efficient changes that were done to weatherize our home, I am saving approximately $50 a month on my electric bill,” she said.

Ponder called the program “a God send for us.”

The CAA provides home weatherization assistance through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Florida Department of Community Affairs.

The program enables low-income families and individuals to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient.

According to Alfredo Rodriguez, Energy Programs Division director, during December 2010, 25 people who got weatherization help were surveyed and 21 of them reported an average monthly saving of $64 and a 28 percent reduction in energy consumption — kilowatt hour usage.

Specific energy conservation measures  include installing or adding attic insulation; repairing or replacing deteriorated exterior doors and windows; installing thresholds and weather-stripping; installing low flow showerheads and pipe insulation on water heater lines; installing water heater jackets; repairing a/c ducts; replacing a/c filters; installing energy efficient light bulbs; and replacing inefficient air conditioners, refrigerators and water heaters.

Participation in the program is based on household income meeting established U.S. poverty guidelines, as well as the results of a home energy audit.  Priority is given to families with children, the elderly and the disabled.

Applications for assistance are now being accepted at the CAA.

For more information, call 786-469-4600 or visit

Photo: Carolyn Ponder