Linda Higgins

This 63-year-old Merced resident and her 77-year-old husband are one of 981 low-income families in Merced and Madera counties whose homes were winterized over the past three years thanks to a federal grant (Department of Energy, Weatherization Program).

The Higgins family live in a mobile home that needed many improvements to make it more energy efficient.

As part of the program, they got a new front door to keep cold air out, a stove that doesn't leak gas, a furnace so they don't have to use small electric heaters, a microwave, and two replacement windows -- among other weatherization upgrades.

"We had been praying a long time and God answered our prayers," Higgins said. "I don't know what we would be doing if they wouldn't have come in to do that for us. That was a blessing." Higgins and her husband, Rodney, don't have to endure cold nights anymore and have seen savings, as well. Their utility bill has decreased to about $60 from more than $200, she said. And the couple didn't have to pay anything for the weatherization that was done to their mobile home.

"That program is absolutely fantastic -- it's wonderful," she said.