Joan Gould was having some problems with a leaky roof after a snowstorm.
But after Howard Vics, an independent contractor and owner of Building Performance Consulting of New York, began looking around, he found a number of things in the Latham home that needed fixing -- the insulation, crumbling plaster walls and a large amount of basement debris. Vics estimated the cost of those repairs at about $15,000.
Vics, of Schenectady, was put in touch with Gould through his volunteer work with the New York State Energy and Resources Development Agency's EmPower New York SM program, a program that provides energy-efficiency services to low-income households.
He was recently honored by NYSERDA for his contribution to the program and his community service.
Gould was among several people who applied for EmPower aid, but Vics said Gould was different from the other applicants.
After speaking with her for a short while, Vics said he learned that Gould's husband of 47 years had recently passed away, and he could sense a certain loneliness in her voice.
How did I pick her out? She touched my heart, he said.
In response to having been chosen to receive the repairs from EmPower, Gould said, " I am extremely thrilled, of course."
According to Ryan Moore, project coordinator for NYSERDA, "Usually the EmPower program is more electric production measures, like a new fridge or replacing lighting. In this case, they replaced the thermostat."
Vics worked with NYSERDA to come up with a plan for Gould's home, which included replacing the insulation, completing air-sealing improvements and replacing the furnace with a more energy efficient model.
In addition, Vics put Gould in touch with Albany County Community Action Partners, an organization administered through the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, which set Gould up with services through the Weatherization Assistance Program. Representatives from the program expect that, with their services, Gould will be able to reduce her energy costs by 40 percent.