God has blessed me with two 23-year careers in my adult life. In both careers, I have had the opportunity to help many families by showing them how to make energy efficiency improvements that helped them save money on their utility bills.
In my first career, as the state architect for a federal agency called the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA,) all of the families we worked with had low or moderate incomes and the utility bill was of great importance. I will never forget the time when I sat down with a young couple and child who were living in a deplorable structure. I was privileged to show that family how they would have the income needed to qualify for a loan for a new house, if they would simply stop spending money on cigarettes. I often think of that family whose child would now be about 35 years of age.
It was during my first career that the interest and importance of energy efficiency in our country was at an all-time high, and I was in a position where I could get hands-on experience by finding and using many of the latest and best energy-efficient products and services available. As my precious wife would say, “Doug did not just get interested in energy efficiency, it became and is his passion.”
Because our agency loaned money in every county in Arkansas, and Washington, D.C. was really encouraging energy efficiency, we started teaching and, in some cases, demanding that new houses be more energy efficient.
During the latter years of that first career, I started conducting short teaching sessions, showing how to build a more energy-efficient house by making just a few common sense changes. Folks showed great interest in the subject and my boss started receiving more and more requests for meetings. One of those meetings took place in Clinton, Ark. As I recall it took place at the First Baptist Church fellowship room and was requested by the FmHA county supervisor, Petit Jean Electric Co-op and several local builders.
After the welcome and opening remarks, a fellow by the name of George Newberry told the group why Arkansas’ electric co-ops were interested in energy efficiency. George was entertaining and easy to understand. Then I gave my presentation, and George and I answered questions from the group. I was told that George told his boss he had met a fellow named Doug Rye who was teaching energy efficiency in a way the electric co-ops believed it should be taught. Well as they say, the rest is history. I had accomplished just about everything that I could accomplish with the government and things were rapidly changing, so I gave my notice of resignation and started a second career.
In this new career, I was fortunate to form and be the host of the “Home Remedies” radio program, which teaches principles of energy efficiency. In a short period of time, requests came for seminars from utility companies, builder associations, real estate associations, educational institutions, HVAC associations and many others. These requests came, not because of the speaker, but because, just as I had expected, the topic of energy efficiency should be of interest to every American family.
In this second career, I have conducted seminars for electric co-ops and a close relationship
developed between us because of their desire to help their members. In Arkansas that relationship became like family, and together we have taught energy efficiency in seminars, on radio and in this column. But it is time for a change. I have written about all I know here in the column during the last decade and so, this is my last column for Illinois Country Living. It is time to start a third career, which will include radio and actually building super-affordable houses.
My heartfelt thanks to you, our faithful readers, and to the all of the electric cooperatives of Illinois. For more information go to www.dougrye.com.