Tuesday, September 06, 2011

TOP STORY >> Couple will see utility bills drop

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County residents Brian and Madison Sanders of the Woodlawn community will soon begin saving money on their home energy bills. The couple won a $5,000 energy efficiency mini-makeover contest by First Electric Cooperative.

The Sanders were one of four First Electric customers in the state selected from submitted applications for energy improvements to their home.

“I’m so excited. I have never won anything in my life,” Madison Sanders said.

The Sanders’ home on 811 Casteen Road is 725 square feet and built in the 1950s. The couple married in October. Brian has owned the home four years. They remodeled the house and were going to use it as a rental home, but chose to live in it, due to the cost of building a new home.

Brian is a plumber with Sanders Plumbing. Madison works in the contractor sales department at the Cabot Home Depot.

The average electric bill at the Sanders’ house was $125. Their highest electric bill was $216. This was before recently installing an outdoor pool, which added an additional $109 to their monthly electric bill.

First Electric performed an energy audit to determine where air leaks were in the house, and where to add more insulation and caulking.

To make the home more energy efficient, a 2-ton mini-split heat pump replaced the single air conditioning and electric heater window unit. Madison Sanders said they used fans to push the air through the house. The new unit has a programmable thermostat.

Kevin Moore, vice president of Moore Heat and Air, said the new heating and air conditioning unit is more efficient, uses less power and is quieter than larger systems.

Other upgrades included changing incandescent light bulbs throughout the house with compact fluorescent bulbs. A timer was installed to a continuously running outdoor swimming pool pump. The timer will cut the pool pump’s energy cost in half.

The house had approximately 8 inches of loose-fill fiberglass insulation in the attic. An additional 8 inches of blown cellulose was added to increase the insulation’s resistance to heat flow (R-value) from R-18 to R-45. The added insulation will help to keep the house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

“I’m just so excited and looking forward to see what the saving will be. We are going to reduce our carbon footprint,” Sanders said.

First Electric marketing representative David Copeland said, “We do it to show how small- to mid-sized investments in energy-efficiency can lower your electrical usage.”