Hope for heating woes this winter

By Vicki Hyatt | Dec 06, 2012

Even though the cost of heating oil is up and the amount of available government assistance is down 42 percent, there is hope on the horizon. That hope is encased in a heater about the size of a small footstool that can warm a room for about $1 a day.

The infrared heaters have a proven track record of helping stretch the amount of money used to heat a home and are a Godsend for those with limited incomes, said Patsy Dowling, the executive director of Mountain Projects. The heating units cost about $175 each if purchased in bulk, but only donations can be used as government funds are restricted.

Dowling is on the front lines when it comes to understanding the gap between needs and available resources. as Mountain Projects is the designated agency through the social services department that doles out available government heating funds.

“These heaters are the way to go,” she said. “We give them out mostly to the elderly and tell them they aren’t for heating an entire house, but only for the room they are in.”

That’s exactly how Charles Ogburn, 58, uses his heater provided through Mountain Projects. Ogburn had surgery to remove a brain tumor in 2005, which left him with impaired vision and no balance. He uses oxygen and an electric wheelchair. Home help during the weekdays, along with a caring group of friends, allows him to live at home.

“I know I’m disabled, but I don’t feel I’m nursing home material,” said Ogburn, a former tobacco and cotton farmer before he moved to Wayesville. He retains his cognitive abilities and spends much of the day listening to news shows on a television provided through his Sunday school class at Long’s Chapel.

For full story, see the Wednesday, Dec. 5 issue of The Mountaineer or click here.