Cold Winter Nights
Last winter, LaLonnie Karow always wore insulated boots and a winter jacket in her living room. At night, the 70-year-old Mondovi resident buried herself under sweaters and heavy blankets. She called this her "normal winter routine" because the temperature in her mobile home was rarely above 55 degrees.
Karow lives in a 1972 mobile home which was moved to a rural area south of Mondovi in June of 2010. With help from one of her sons, she made improvements to the foundation and the interior floors, and they thought she was ready for the cold winter weather.
But her electric baseboard heaters were too expensive to operate and the make-shift wood-burning stove in the living room couldn't warm the entire home. "You have no idea how cold it was," Karow said. "The floor was just freezing and there were drafts all over this place."
Karow has been living on a fixed income for the past decade, and she finally decided to ask for help when the temperature outside dropped below zero. She contacted Jan Pritchet, an Elderly Benefit Specialist for the county. She was soon signed up for the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program, Food Shares, and the Western Dairyland Weatherization program.
To address the emergency heating situation, Weatherization Program Director Mike Canaday researched space heaters and located a model that was up to code and suitable for mobile homes. Safety is the number one concern when you're dealing with wood fireplaces or space heaters in a mobile home, Canaday said. The unit he installed in December is completely safe and it provides plenty of heat in the main living area of the home.
Next, a Western Dairyland Weatherization crew spent three days working on the trailer. They insulated the floor and the attic, repaired the living room ceiling, and installed two new entry doors and storm windows. They also insulated the water heater and installed energy-efficient light bulbs throughout the home.
"I tell you, these guys are great. I'm amazed," Karow said. "They work so good together. I feel privileged to receive their help."
Karow said she's certainly not looking forward to next winter, but she's no longer worried about keeping warm. "They've taken a lot off my mind," she said. "I know I'll be able to make it through the coldest nights this year."