Louis Crumble and his wife, Mary Woody, of Atlantic City, couldn’t sit in the living room during winter without wearing jackets. Then, as the 90,000th beneficiary of the Comfort Partners program, GreenLife Energy Solutions of Egg Harbor Township upgraded their home to combat the cold.
For those eligible, N.J. Clean Energy’s Comfort Partners is free — a state Board of Public Utilities “energy saving and energy education program for qualified low-income customers,” according to the Comfort Partners website.
Crumble, who lives with his wife, daughters and grandchildren, said that GreenLife reached out to him.
“Without Jesus, His savior, without him this would not be happening, this would not be possible,” Crumble said. “They came to me — it was a true blessing from God.” The BPU and its Clean Energy Program, along with Atlantic City Electric and South Jersey Gas, granted an audit of the household.
Ed Ryan, president of GreenLife Energy Solutions, said his company is able to find new clients mostly by word-of-mouth, but sometimes from different financial assistance lists — such as the Universal Service Fund, which helps make energy bills more affordable to eligible customers — that the company can access.
“We’re always asking people,” Ryan said. “Because we’re in the local community, all of our employees are here and everybody knows somebody (who needs help).”
Crumble’s home was constructed in the 1950s, and when he and his family moved in about three years ago, there were a lot of “creaks and cracks” in it, Crumble said.
“When we first moved in, the house was freezing, it was cold,” Crumbled said. “I would turn the temperature sometimes to 80 (degrees), and as soon as we got the heat on, the heat was going out.”
Last winter, which was infamous for its polar vortex and near-zero temperatures, was unbearable for the Crumble household.
“I have never experienced anything like that,” Crumble said. “For two months in a row my heating bill was over $1,000.”
Crumble said he used his savings, which was for emergencies, to pay off the bills.
The house had mold in crawl spaces, carbon monoxide leaks, moisture and drainage problems, no insulation in the attic crawl spaces or walls, and the boiler and hot water heater needed replacing, Ryan and Crumbled attested.
Ryan said the work needed could have added up to tens of thousands of dollars.
The work and supplies that made the Crumble household more energy efficient and safe were offered and installed to Crumble free of charge.
“These guys worked from sun up to sundown. They sealed every crack,” Crumble said.
In addition to sealing the home against drafts, insulation was added, the hot water heater and boiler were replaced, and energy efficient lighting, a new carbon monoxide detector and gutters and downspouts were repaired or replaced. The house also got a mold remediation process, the BPU said.
On Friday, the Crumble household represented the Comfort Partners program’s 90,000th customer at a celebration at the Crumble household with BPU commissioner Dianne Solomon, representatives from Atlantic Electric, South Jersey Gas and Mayor Don Guardian.
New Jersey residents can call 866-NJSMART (866-657-6278) or visit NJCleanEnergy.com/CP to learn about eligibility requirements and services available through Comfort Partners.