Energy Efficiency Makeover
For most, our home is the largest investment we make in our lifetime. However, over time, it is important to continue investing in your home to maintain energy efficiency, which will lead to saving on your energy bills in the long run. But this can be difficult for homeowners for many reasons. Energy efficiency updates can be expensive and often confusing.
As an electric cooperative, we at Wheatland hold “Concern for Community”—one of the seven electric cooperative principles—close to our hearts. We strive to exemplify this principal daily by ensuring the “lights are on” when you need them and through supporting local organizations and events, but our team wanted to start a new project to provide community outreach in a new way.
Our vision developed into the Energy Efficiency Makeover. With this project, we hoped to aid a local member in identifying inefficiencies in their home and complete improvements to their home at no cost to them, but during the course of the project, it became so much more. The quest to complete the project turned into an overwhelming demonstration of the commitment by all involved.
We began working with local organizations to find a Wheatland member candidate. During the selection process, we had the pleasure of meeting Varna Johnson. Born in Arkansas, Varna grew up with 5 brothers and 6 sisters, moving to Great Bend, KS, at the age of 4. Attending local schools, Varna graduated from GBHS in 1962, and continued her involvement in the school system by working in the central kitchen for USD 428, providing meals for all Great Bend students. Retiring after 34 years of service, Varna holds close the memories and friendships she made in the kitchen.
We began the Energy Efficiency Makeover in early February. Although cold outside, Varna’s home provided comfort and warmth: She greeted us with an infectious smile that instantly made us feel like old friends. During our visit she shared her fond memories of her late husband and the love she has for her daughters and grandchildren.
To start the project, we needed a local contractor to help us out—this is where we met Matt Hoisington of C&V Home Improvement (www.cvhipros.com), Great Bend, KS. C&V Home Improvement began as a small insulation company back in 1976 and evolved into a company that provides an array of products that increase a home’s beauty and energy efficiency. Matt has served as C&V Home Improvement’s president since 2010. To say that Matt has a philanthropic heart would be an understatement: Without hesitation, he graciously agreed to be a part of the project.
Matt and I met with Varna to complete an energy evaluation of her home. Matt began by inspecting the attic insulation. “Good insulation should be 10-12 inches in thickness; whereas, Varna’s attic only has less than 1 inch,” said Matt.
Matt then moved to the outside walls and removed the outlet covers to inspect the insulation, checked the doors and windows for air leakage, and took measurements throughout the home.
As Matt worked, we shared a few daily energy saving tips with Varna. We advised her to set her thermostat to a temperature as low as comfortable in the winter months (65-68 degrees F is suggested when the house is occupied). With an ornery grin, Varna looked over at Matt breaking a sweat as he completed the energy evaluation.
The next day, Matt sent me his proposal of the improvements that would benefit Varna’s home:
- Caulk window wraps to keep out air and moisture
- Install weather strips around doors
- Provide proper insulation for the attic area
- Insulate the ambient walls of the foundation
- Replace single entry door with a new steel entry door and storm door
At the bottom of his proposal, he left one final note: “I have put in a request to ProVia to see if they will donate the door and storm door. If not, I’ll cover that cost.” Amazing! We were moved to see a local business so humbly exemplify “Commitment to Community.”
(Energy Saving Tip: Caulk and weather strip windows and doors or Insulate!)
We met with Varna the following week to discuss the proposal items and another surprise. Despite being located over 1,000 miles away, ProVia agreed to donate the doors. ProVia (www.provia.com), founded in 1977, is nestled within the rolling hills of Sugarcreek, Ohio. They are a nine-time recipient of the Department of Energy’s Energy Star Partner of the Year Award—the only door company to receive this award.
“When Matt contacted me and explained the project, it just made sense,” said Joe Klink, director of corporate relations at ProVia. Their contribution exemplified their commitment to serving customers.
The generosity continued. Jack Willenberg, president of CenKan Lead Testing, LLC (www.cenkan.com), based in Barton County, KS, completed a lead paint test for the door replacement. This was an option under the Lead-Based Paint Pre-Renovation Education Rule (Lead PRE), a Federal regulation that affects renovations/repairs in residential housing built before 1978. Unless proven the affected components do not have lead paint, contractors are required to follow the Lead Safe Work Practices (LSWP) per Federal and State of Kansas Department of Energy regulations. Jack not only tested the door for lead paint, he graciously donated a whole-house lead paint inspection and a risk assessment.
LED light bulbs are proven to operate between 70 and 90 percent more efficiently than traditional incandescent bulbs. Service Concepts, a cooperative initiated by 30 electric cooperatives, donated LED bulbs to update the interior lighting in Varna’s home. Service Concepts was initiated in 1999 by 30 electric cooperatives and are a Touchstone Energy partner and trusted source for electric cooperatives nationwide. Co-ops serving co-ops—it’s a good thing! They serve as a complete source for high quality and competitively priced energy saving products, kits, and services.
All of the Energy Efficiency Makeover projects were finished by mid-March, courtesy of Wheatland and our partner C&V Home Improvement, and our gracious donors ProVia, Service Concepts, and CenKan Lead Testing.
“I know these improvements will help lower my monthly energy bill, and I am truly blessed to be chosen for this energy efficiency makeover,” said Varna. “The generosity and compassion of everyone involved is sincerely appreciated.” Thank you, Varna, for the opportunity to know you.
Thank you, Matt, for your partnership on this project and to everyone who made this project a success.
“I cannot tell you how great it feels to be a part of this community project,” said Matt. “Certainly, I feel called to help Varna and am thankful you invited us to participate.” I totally agree, Matt.
Ready to explore where energy efficiencies can be found in your own home? Visit Wheatland’s website at www.weci.net under the Education tab for energy saving tips and tools. Or contact your local home improvement and HVAC contractor to check on efficiency options available for your home. Save energy, save money!