Energy Efficiency

Arkansas Efficiency Contest Pays Off

By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer Published: August 25th, 2011

An annual energy-efficiency makeover contest run by Arkansas’s electric cooperatives is helping co-op consumer-members reap the benefits of their home improvement investments.

A contractor installs foam insulation in the attic of the home of a co-op consumer-member in Arkansas. (Photo By: Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas)

A contractor installs foam insulation in the attic of the home of a co-op consumer-member in Arkansas. (Photo By: Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas)

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    While only one grand prize winner per year is selected for $50,000 in efficiency upgrades, dozens of others across the state benefit from the promotion by looking in on the progress at the selected home.

    “Everyone can learn from the components and measures used to make a home more comfortable and energy-efficient,” said Doug White, vice president of systems services for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.

    Arkansas’s 2011 Energy Efficiency Makeover Contest drew more than 2,000 entries this summer. The fourth annual contest was again sponsored by Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp., a Little Rock-based G&T, and its 17 member distribution co-ops. Besides the grand prize, 16 runners-up will receive 40-gallon high-efficiency water heaters.

    William “Larry” and Nancy Ferrell of Hopewell learned their 31-year-old home had been selected for the $50,000 grand prize redo, Aug. 8. Their home is in the service territory of First Electric Cooperative, based in Jacksonville.

    “The Ferrells’ home is like many throughout America,” said White. “The heating and cooling system is obsolete, the dwelling is not sealed or insulated properly, the ductwork leaks and the windows are inefficient.”

    During the next few months, the Ferrells’ home will be subjected to comprehensive energy audits, including blower door, duct blaster and infrared thermography tests. Contractors will also seal the building envelope and add foam insulation in the sidewalls and attic.

    Other improvements will include the addition of an energy-efficient water heater, an ultra-efficient geothermal heating and cooling system, and new high-efficiency windows and doors.

    A contractor digs a well for a geothermal heating and cooling system at the Arkansas home of a co-op consumer-member. (Photo By: Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas)

    A contractor digs a well for a geothermal heating and cooling system at the Arkansas home of a co-op consumer-member. (Photo By: Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas)

    “In order to manage their utility bills, the Ferrells have sacrificed comfort and convenience,” said White. “During the summer they push their thermostat past the 80-degree range and during the winter they supplement their heat by burning wood in an older wood stove.”

    The testing and installation of the improvements will be presented in media vignettes produced for the Arkansas statewide’s Smart Energy Tips website, where material from the three previous winning makeovers is also featured.

    “The Smart Energy Tips site gets a huge increase in traffic during the makeover process,” said Rob Roedel, manager of corporate communications for the statewide association.

    “Site statistics also indicate tremendous interest in the various projects undertaken during the makeover,” said Roedel. “Members can see firsthand how efficiency projects can help them save money and energy.”


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