Energy Efficiency Makeover
Last year, Wheatland tried a new project designed to help our members learn more about how to make their homes more energy efficient while at the same time assisting a local member by making improvements to their home at no cost to them. The project quickly grew legs and became what we now call our Energy Efficiency Home Makeover. We had so much fun and received such great feedback after helping last year’s project recipient, VARNA JOHNSON from Great Bend, that we knew we wanted to do another project this year.
Selecting a Candidate
Like last year, we began this year’s project by contacting several local organizations in our service territory to identify a member candidate. This year’s search led us to Wheatland member CINDY HORNBACK of Scott City. Cindy has been living in her house for 19 years. The loss of her husband three years ago combined with her recent health problems made it difficult enough to keep up with general maintenance around her house, let alone make improvements in energy efficiency. When we called Cindy to explain the project and what we’d like to do, she was ecstatic. “I just can’t believe it,” she said. “That sounds wonderful, thank you so much.”
Preparing for the Makeover
The next step was to perform an energy evaluation of Cindy’s home and determine what improvements needed to be made. After putting the word out for someone to perform the evaluation, our old friend MATT HOISINGTON from C&V Home Improvements in Great Bend came to the rescue. Matt was our project partner last year and performed both the evaluation and the work necessary to make the improvements to Varna’s house.
Energy Evaluation Results
A few days after completing a thorough walk-through of Cindy’s house with Matt, we received a detailed evaluation with recommendations that would improve the home's energy efficiency. Recommended improvements included the following:
- Obtain a complete heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) evaluation: There were a few indicators throughout the house that there might be some air circulation issues. (The presence of a window air conditioner for example.)
- Adjust and install weather stripping on three entry doors.
- Replace broken window in kitchen.
- Repair and replace two broken panes of glass in north bathroom and south living room.
- Install sash locks on windows where missing.
- Replace front and back storm doors.
- Remove two courses of vinyl siding (4 -foot and 7-foot from the bottom of the wall) from entire home and install dense pack cellulose insulation (R-13) and reinstall the siding. (Except the addition which is already adequately insulated.)
- Caulk around windows where gaps in existing siding are observed.
- Install R-19 fiberglass insulation to rim joists in crawl space areas.
- Install R-13 fiberglass insulation “curtain” to ambient walls in crawl space areas.
- Replace three basement windows with new insulated windows.
Unlike before, due to distance and other logistical issues, we wouldn’t be able to call on Matt to help us check off our list this year. We’d done a little recruiting ahead of time for potential local partners to help with this year’s project. Now that we had the list, it was time to find someone (or someones) to help us pull off the makeover.
Working with Donors
My first call was to VON HUNN of Garden True Value in Garden City. We had pitched the project idea to Von a couple of months earlier, as we initially thought this year’s project would be in close proximity to Garden True Value. At the time, we agreed to reconvene once we had a better idea of how this year’s project would take shape. With list in hand, we called Von to discuss the evaluation. After reviewing the list, Von agreed to donate the insulation needed to insulate the crawl space areas, as noted in the evaluation. Now we just needed someone to install the insulation.
We reached out to local contractor DAVE CLINTON of Freedom Construction to see if he’d be willing to install the insulation in the crawl space areas as well as the exterior walls as noted in the evaluation. After explaining the project to Dave, he graciously agreed to donate the work required to install the insulation.
Next up, we needed someone to help us with a lot of window and door replacements and repairs. We contacted local contractor ROD MCCLEARY of MTM Siding and Glass and pitched him the project and held our breath—this was a big piece of the puzzle. Thankfully, Rod was on board and agreed to help us. Even better, Rod worked closely with ProVia, the same company that Matt worked with last year. We were optimistic that ProVia would be willing to help us again this year. After a call to his sales rep at ProVia who then consulted with ProVia Director of Corporate Relations JOE KLINK, ProVia agreed to discount all the doors and windows needed to complete the project. Now we were really rolling!
The last thing we needed was to find someone to evaluate Cindy’s current HVAC system to see if there was anything we could do to help make Cindy’s house more comfortable and energy efficient. We called local HVAC contractor BRENT FAUROT, owner of Faurot Heating and Cooling. (Brent is the contractor Wheatland uses to maintain our local facilities in Scott City and we thought our best chance at calling in a favor.) After reviewing Matt’s evaluation with Brent and catching him up on the project, he agreed to stop by Cindy’s house and take a look.
We met with Brent and did a complete walkthrough and evaluation of Cindy’s existing HVAC system. Per Matt’s notes in the initial evaluation, we identified a circulation issue in a room addition. There wasn’t enough supply air flow to the room, and Cindy was having to supplement with a window air conditioning unit in the summer and space heating in the winter. Brent agreed to help us correct the problem by running a new supply vent to the far side of the room and to also service her furnace, air conditioning unit and water heater, as well as install a new programmable thermostat. The new supply line was going to be rather involved as we’d need to cut a hole into the ceiling of one of Cindy’s basement bedrooms to tie into her existing HVAC supply trunk. Hey Dave—we’re going to need to add another item to your list! (Thankfully, Dave said no problem, we can fix that hole, too.)
Adding the Final Touches
When reviewing last year’s project, we noted that our friends at Service Concepts had donated LED bulbs to update the interior lighting of Varna’s entire home. So we reached out to RACHEL BARKER, their director of sales and marketing, to see if they’d be willing to help on this year’s project. Once again, they graciously agreed to donate more than 25 LED bulbs to update Cindy’s entire home.
Nearly all the items on Matt’s list of recommended improvements were finished as of the publication of this article. The few that hadn't were delayed due to weather or other minor hiccups but will be completed soon.
We’d like to say a great big thank you to all our partners on this year’s project. We were blown away by the generosity of everyone involved. An extra special thank you to ROD MCCLEARY of MTM Siding and Glass for his time and effort in replacing, repairing and weatherizing all those doors and windows.
“I love doing things like this,” said McCleary. “If I didn’t have to earn a living, I’d just do work like this for people that need it. If someone could pay for it fine, if not fine too. There are people who could use help with these types of things—some of them little—that would really help them and they just can’t afford them. I like helping people.”
“I’m so thrilled,” Cindy said. “I still can’t believe it. I’m just so thankful for everything that’s been done. I’m so excited to have a kitchen window that I can actually open, and I can’t wait to turn on my air conditioning this summer and see the improvements in my room. These past three months, I’ve just been so blessed, not only by this project but lots of other things that all seemed to have happened at the same time. I’m so thankful.”
While we realize not everyone can afford to make all the improvements that we helped Cindy with on this project, we hope we’ve inspired you to look around your house and see those problem areas with a new perspective. How about setting aside a weekend, going to your local hardware/home improvement store and purchasing a tube of caulking and some foam weather stripping? Caulking around those leaky windows and sealing up those drafty doors could provide real savings this summer and into the winter.
If you’re ready to get started or just want to learn more about making your home more efficient, visit Wheatland’s website at www.weci.net and click on the Education” tab. Or feel free to contact one of our great partners from this year’s project to see how they can help you with your very own energy efficiency home makeover.