Wow, time really does pass quickly. Since my last column, major winter storms have pounded the United States. The storms left many without electricity. Hundreds of crews were sent by electric utilities, including Arkansas’ electric cooperatives, to help restore this wonderful product called electricity.
I heard several families say on TV that they did not realize how many ways they used electricity until they were without it. When I conduct my energy efficiency seminars at your local co-op, I show one PowerPoint slide that reads, “But the facts are, it is an all electric world.” Yes, virtually everything in a house depends on electricity, even natural gas furnaces and clothes dryers.
I have always been impressed with the way electric utilities work together to restore power during a time of crisis. Furthermore, last year many of the utilities hit by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy were “investor-owned, for-profit utilities,” not “member-owned, non-profit” businesses like your electric cooperative. And although those business models differ greatly, they worked together during a difficult situation to restore electricity to those without. What a beautiful example of electric utility workers from all walks of life across America working together to improve the quality of life for those in need. I hope our elected officials will take note of the unity example set by these linemen.
Let’s move on to energy efficiency. While going through the mail, I opened a letter from a lady who had attended my recent seminar at Craighead Electric Cooperative in Arkansas. I would like to share the entire letter, but there just isn’t enough space within this column. So I will just give you excerpts, exactly as written within the letter.
“Doug: Well, I have debated on whether to write you about my electric bill, but I wanted you to know how pleased I am. Your advice worked. We talked last summer about adding insulation to my attic. My Uncle Shepherd at church said that he would help me. For many Friday mornings, Lowe’s would have three (insulation) machines available. When we got there, they were all checked out. Finally, one Saturday in January, we got it done. We discovered there wasn’t any insulation over my laundry room, which explains why it was like killing hogs in there in the winter and hot as Hades in the summer.
“These are the things I noticed that were different after the insulation was added.
1. Felt warm when I walked into the laundry room. This was a first.
2. House was comfortable at 68 degrees. Did not have to layer clothing.
3. Did not have to turn on back-up heat (gas stove).
4. Summer thermostat set at 78 (did not change at any time) and house was comfortable even on hottest days.
5. Did not have to turn on floor fans to stay cool.
6. Children, when they visited, did not complain that the house was too hot. First time ever.
7. Unit does not run for what seems forever. I used to hear it running forever when I woke in the middle of the night. Now when I wake up, I wonder why it isn’t running.
8. Electric bill is reasonable. Hallelujah!”
She also mentioned that she caulked “like mad” and installed a Marathon water heater. Her last sentence says, “Thanks for taking the time to read my saga, but most of all thanks for all the help you give everyone on ways to cut down on energy costs.”
Folks, the improvements that we teach always work. Just look at what adding cellulose attic insulation, caulking and installing a Marathon water heater did for this member. And you can do it, too.
Letters like these are humbling and make me proud to be affiliated with the electric cooperatives and their members. We’ve worked closely together for more than a decade to teach you how to take charge of your utility bills and improve the comfort of your home. Feedback like this is very rewarding, and I thank all of you who take the time to write.
Before I sign off, here’s a couple of parting energy efficiency tips sure to help you and others save energy. Consider using LED lighting on your Christmas tree and around the house. LEDs use up to 75 percent less wattage than their incandescent counterparts and will last for many years. Also, give the gift of energy efficiency this year. There are dozens of affordable energy-saving items available at building supply centers that make for perfect stocking stuffers.