An Elderly Couple in Maine Offers to Trade Their Car for Fuel Oil
On Friday, the New York Times published an article about the Hartfords, an elderly couple in Dixfield, Maine who couldn't afford to pay for fuel oil for their leaky, inefficient home. I heard about it through social media from a couple of my friends up in Maine. Peter Troast of Energy Circle is one of those, and he's written about the local response their plight.
The story in the Times is heart rending, not only because of the couple, who even offered the title of their car as payment because they still owed for their last two deliveries, but also because of the owner of the fuel oil company, who can't afford to give his product away and stay in business. The stress has really gotten to him.
Peter reported on his Facebook page that there's been a huge outpouring of support to help the couple. He's also written a great article about the deeper implications and how we must address the real issues. Just raising money to allow them to continue buying fuel oil for a grossly inefficient is not the answer. As Peter wrote, "Paying for people's oil, a commodity virtually guaranteed to continue its annual 18% per year price march, is utterly unsustainable."
Peter is putting his principles into action and has gone up to Dixfield today with Upright Frameworks, a weatherization company, and DeWitt Kimball of Complete Home Evaluation Services. They're going to do a complete home energy audit and come up with a plan to help them heat their home more affordably.
I love the response to this story and that this couple is getting a lot of help. The fuel oil company has had a lot of offers of money and gifts coming in, and Peter's group will help the couple improve the energy efficiency of their home. But let's also keep in mind that for each story that gets this kind of publicity and response, there are countless others out there who are still struggling. These are tough economic times, and this story reminds of the way people helped each other during the Great Depression and World War II.
You really should go read those two articles now:
In Fuel Oil Country, Cold that Cuts to the Heart by Dan Barry of the New York Times
Helping the Hartfords and Finding a Path to More Energy Efficient Homes by Peter Troast of Energy Circle. Peter has promised to update his story with their findings and what they do with them.
The photo at the top is one that I've taken and is not from the Hartford's home. The photo of the Blower Door test is from the energy audit of their home, taken by Peter Troast of Energy Circle.