NEW ORLEANS-- The inside of Harold Lumpkin's Hollygrove home is down to its skeletal structure-- much as it's been since shortly after Hurricane Katrina.
"I had some contractor fraud problems," Lumpkin said. "The outside looks beautiful, but the inside was just, it wasn't even this good. It was terrible."
Now, though, the inside of his home and others in Hollygrove are starting to take shape, thanks in part to the help of volunteers from the non-profit Rebuilding Together and several energy cooperatives from around the country who are in town for a national conference.
"Given all the struggles and all the challenges that they've been through that this can give them some sort of closure, some relief and a beautiful home to live in that's energy efficient to boot," said Mark Hayden, a volunteer from Missoula, MT.
Energy efficiency is the key to much of this work. The volunteers are weatherizing the homes, which can make a difference on their electric bills.
"It's incredible-- we can bring people's bills from $300 a month down to $75 a month," said Robin Young of Rebuilding Together. "So, for folks living on a fixed income, that is a substantial savings."
Some of the weatherizing steps don't require a lot effort.
"It can be as simple as doing some caulking or sealing, plugging holes in the walls," said Alan Shedd of Touchstone Energy. "In some cases, it's adding insulation."
One installation that does require more work is known as a radiant barrier.
"It looks like aluminum foil, but it's on the underside of the roof and it blocks the heat coming through in the summer to make the house more comfortable," Shedd said.
A radiant barrier is especially useful in areas with hot summers, like Louisiana.
"Especially here in New Orleans, with the sun in the summertime and I'm sure your air conditioning costs are a lot higher than ours are in Montana," Hayden said. "So. it would make a great impact on the energy savings for this home in particular."
It is a home that Harold Lumpkin can't wait to see whole.
"Amazing," he said, as he watched the work unfold around him. "That's all I can say-- amazing."
Not all of the weatherization tips require spending money. For more information on small steps you can take, click here