Amelia Gonzales’ Story


Amelia Gonzales has lived in an adobe house in Espanola most of her adult life. The 70-year-old woman lives there alone on $710 a month. Unfortunately, Mrs. Gonzales has spent many winters trying desperately to stay warm in her house. During the long, cold weeks, she wore several layers of clothing day and night and relied on a wood-burning stove to provide a small amount of warmth. To make matters worse, Mrs. Gonzales’ gas and electric bills were high, averaging $155 a month. It was almost 22 percent of her income.

Mrs. Gonzales’ children helped her haul firewood to burn in her wood stove to help keep warm. But years of adding on rooms to the older home left many leaky spaces and holes around doors and windows and between the walls. In fact, energy efficiency technicians estimated that the combined area of the holes and leaky spaces were equivalent to 81 basketballs. In addition to the leaks, Mrs. Gonzales’ attic had virtually no insulation.

But things are different for Mrs. Gonzales now. Through MFA’s Energy$mart program, her home received extensive energy efficiency upgrades – at no cost to her. A weatherization crew from Central New Mexico Housing Corporation, an MFA service provider, plugged the holes and leaks and added insulation in the attic. They also replaced the old furnace, repaired the water heater, insulated the attic and replaced broken glass in the windows.

Since the weatherization work was done, the air leakage in Mrs. Gonzales’ home has been reduced by 87 percent. Her utility bills have dropped to about $75 a month -- half of what she was paying before. And the savings are expected to continue each year for 20 to 25 years.

“I had no idea how much heat I was losing,” Mrs. Gonzales said. “I did know that my bills were high and I was always cold. I am very grateful for the work that was done. It is so different now.”