Annual servicing key to efficient heat pump use
Discount available for State Fair gate admission
Members rate co-op 88 on 2015 satisfaction survey
Reserve spot for Oct. 22 blood drive in Jacksonville
Small task can have big impact on energy costs
High heat can mean higher electricity usage
Bauxite couple selected as makeover prize winners
First Electric members fund donations to 18 organizations
First Electric members re-elect Hudspeth to board
Energy audits identify ways you can save money, energy
Save money with ENERGY STAR products
Program finances heat pump, other home improvements
GenerLink™ provides safe, easy way to connect generator
Heat pumps are the most energy efficient type of electric heat, particularly for the southern United States. They work by collecting the heat that already exists and releasing it where you desire, either inside or outside of your home depending on the season.
Proper maintenance remains the key to efficient heat pump operation and extending the life of your unit. You should have a professional technician service your system at least yearly. The technician should:
- Inspect ducts, filters, blower and indoor coils for dirt and other obstructions
- Diagnose and seal duct leakage
- Verify adequate airflow by measurement
- Verify correct refrigerant charge by measurement
- Check for refrigerant leaks
- Inspect electric terminals, and, if necessary, clean and tighten connections and apply non-conductive coating
- Lubricate motors and inspect belts for tightness and wear
- Verify correct electric control, making sure that heating is locked out when the thermostat calls for cooling and vice versa
- Verify correct thermostat operation
Information provided by the Department of Energy’s website.
First Electric scored an 88 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index survey for 2015. ACSI scores show how the co-op compares to other electric utilities. ACSI representatives contacted 250 randomly selected members and asked four questions about their overall satisfaction with the co-op, if the co-op falls short of their expectations, how the co-op compares to an ideal utility company and how likely they would be to choose the co-op.
First Electric Cooperative's Jacksonville office will host an American Red Cross blood drive Thursday, Oct. 22. Donation appointments are available from noon to 4 p.m. Click here to reserve a time. Our sponsor code is FECJ. Walk-ins also are welcome.
When it comes to energy efficiency in the home, sometimes small changes can make a big impact. The small, unglamorous task of changing the filters on your HVAC system makes your unit run more efficiently – keeping your house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It also saves money.
The lowdown on dirt
As you move around your home, you drive dust into the air from carpets, furniture and drapes. Regardless of where it comes from, dust and dirt trapped in a system’s air filter leads to several problems, including:
- Reduced air flow in the home and up to 15 percent higher operating costs
- Higher maintenance costs
- Lowered system efficiency
Making the switch
Now that you know the facts, it’s time to get busy changing or cleaning the air filter in your heating/cooling system. Many HVAC professionals recommend that you clean or change the filter on your heat pump, air conditioner and furnace system monthly. It’s simple and easy, and in many cases, it only takes a few minutes.
Heating and cooling professionals recommend turning your system off before changing the air filter. Make sure that the arrow on the filter, which indicates the direction of the airflow, is pointing toward the blower motor. When you’ve made the change, turn your system back on.
First Electric partners with FilterChange.coop to provide an easy way for you to buy filters. Click here to browse their selection. The service also can email you reminders when it’s time to change your filter.
For other tips on how to save, click here or call 800-489-7405 to speak with a First Electric marketing representative who specializes in energy efficiency.
Did you notice an increase in your July electricity usage? The average high temperature in July 2015 was 94 degrees versus 86 degrees in July 2014. This represented an 8-degree increase. In addition, July 2015 had 28 days greater than 90 degrees compared to only 10 in July 2014. Even though your thermostat setting might not have changed, increased outside temperatures would have caused your air conditioning unit to run more. Considering cooling makes up a majority of most members’ summertime electricity costs, you probably saw an increase in your electric bill.
Although you can’t control Arkansas’ summer temperatures, you can take steps to improve the efficiency of your home. Click here for ways to reduce your cooling costs.
The all-electric homes of 17 electric cooperative members soon will become much more energy efficient after being transformed as part of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas eighth annual Energy Efficiency Makeover Contest. The 17 winning members will receive up to $3,000 in energy efficiency improvements to their homes. Jeff and Dedra Turner of Bauxite were selected as the prize winners for First Electric Cooperative.
“Thousands of electric cooperative members from across the state submitted applications and the 17 winners were then objectively selected by a statewide team of cooperative representatives,” said Bret Curry, manager of residential energy marketing for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “The common theme among the 17 homes is higher than average electrical consumption per square foot of living space and complaints about having to sacrifice comfort in order to keep their electric bills affordable.”
Curry said the energy efficiency makeover project is an educational program that teaches and demonstrates basic building science. Members’ homes are used as a resource, so others can learn how they can implement energy savings and comfort improvement ideas within their homes.
Each winner will receive a comprehensive energy audit that includes a blower door air infiltration test, a ductwork leakage test and infrared thermal imaging scan. Upon diagnosis of the energy problems, a team of experts will install additional attic insulation and seal and insulate whole-house attic fans and attic access points. Additionally the homes will receive caulk where needed, and unwanted air leaks will be sealed. The makeover team also will reconnect, seal and insulate ductwork and replace inefficient light bulbs with CFL or LEDs.
The 16 other prizes winners and their respective electric cooperatives are:
- Russell and Lori Powell of Waldron, Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative members;
- Michael and Stacy Adams of Hamburg, Ashley-Chicot Electric Cooperative members;
- Rose Mary Sullivan of Tillar, C&L Electric Cooperative members;
- Ann Prestage of Bella Vista, Carroll Electric Cooperative member;
- Earl and Anne Ladyman of Corning, Clay County Electric Cooperative members;
- Mike and Kandi Morrison of Jonesboro, Craighead Electric Cooperative members;
- Bill and Patsy Smothermon of Bradford, Farmers Electric Cooperative member;
- Roger and Laura Riney of Manila, Mississippi County Electric Cooperative members;
- Louis and Betty Breece of Ash Flat, North Arkansas Electric Cooperative members;
- Annette Russell of Bearden, Ouachita Electric Cooperative member;
- Jimmy and Rachel Mobb of Lincoln, Ozarks Electric Cooperative members;
- B.J. and Ashley Rea of Marshall, Petit Jean Electric Cooperative members;
- Bill and Connie Hutto of Dierks, Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative members;
- Janye Bell of Arkadelphia, South Central Arkansas Electric Cooperative member;
- Mike and Paula Wells of Doddridge, Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative members; and
- Ronald and Sarah Matlock of Forrest City, Woodruff Electric Cooperative members.
First Electric Cooperative members who participate in Operation Round-Up funded $17,000 in donations to 18 local nonprofit organizations in July. (Visit the Operation Round-Up page for photos!)
Members who enroll in Operation Round-Up volunteer to have their electric bill rounded up to the next even dollar amount each month. They have raised more than $773,000 for local service organizations and scholarships for high school seniors. Members may enroll by calling 800-489-7405 or by completing the form here.
Recipients by county include:
- Resource Center for the Aging, $500
- Margie’s Haven House, $1,000
- Drasco Volunteer Fire Department, $1,000
- Conway County Center for Exceptional Children, $1,000
- Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Faulkner County, $1,000
- Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Garland County, $1,000
- Austin Volunteer Fire Department, $1,000
- Open Arms Shelter, $1,000
- Woodlawn Extension Homemakers Club, $1,000
- Kohen’s Park Foundation, $1,000
- Perry County Single Parent Scholarship Fund, $1,000
- Morrilton Human Relations Council, $1,000
- Boys & Girls Club of Bryant, $1,000
- Bryant Senior Activity Center, $1,000
- Saline County Single Parent Scholarship Fund, $1,000
- Imagination Library of Saline County, $1,000
- Arkansas Bikers for Children, $1,000
- North Central Arkansas Search & Rescue, $500
First Electric Cooperative held its annual membership meeting June 26 at the cooperative’s headquarters in Jacksonville. Members, voting by mail-in ballot, re-elected Tracy Hudspeth to serve a six-year term on the cooperative’s board of directors.
Hudspeth lives in Drasco and represents members in Cleburne, Independence, Stone and White counties.
The First Electric Board of Directors also includes: Chairman Robert Hill, Perryville; Vice Chairman Larry Wood, Lonoke; Secretary-Treasurer Robert Maertens, Benton; Jimmie Crockett, Rose Bud; Tom Hasty Jr., Almyra; Rick Love, Jacksonville; David Luebke, Scott; and Karissa Rushing, Benton.
First Electric members who returned their ballots were entered in a drawing for prizes. This year’s prizes included five $200 credits for electricity, five indoor grills and five waffle irons. Recipients are listed below.
$200 Electricity Credits:
- M.W. Sossamon
- Courtney Dunlap
- Beverly Whitlock
- Helen Edwards
- Delayne Keaton
- Steven Bass
- Preston Robinson
- Lisa Sharp
- George White
- Don McMillen
- Juanita Hathcock
- Bonnie Ottinger
- James Harper
- Geneva Dishongh
- Doyne Williams
The 2014 Annual Report also was discussed during the meeting. The cooperative ended 2014 with more than $475 million in total assets, and $4.4 million was returned to members in the form of capital credit checks. Click here to view the Annual Report.
The goal of First Electric Cooperative’s energy audit program is to help you save money by identifying areas where your home’s energy efficiency can be improved. We offer diagnostic and walk-through energy audits. Both are performed by First Electric marketing representatives who have been trained and certified through the Building Performance Institute.
Diagnostic energy audits
A blower door as well as a Duct Blaster and infrared camera are tools that can be used during a diagnostic energy audit. They allow a marketing representative to locate thermal deficiencies, air infiltration and leakage that can cause high energy consumption and an uncomfortable home.
You get a detailed report that includes the measured air tightness of your home, infrared camera results and recommendations for improvements that could reduce energy usage. They could range from no-cost tips, such as adjusting the thermostat’s temperature, to projects that could require an initial investment but could pay off in energy savings, such as adding insulation or having the HVAC system inspected. The diagnostic energy audit costs $100, but that fee is reimbursed if at least $100 of recommended repairs are made within six months.
Walk-through energy audits
Marketing representatives can conduct a free walk-through energy audit. They visually inspect your home and evaluate the energy efficiency of the building, household appliances, heating and cooling system and lighting. You get a list of recommendations showing steps that can be taken to reduce energy costs.
For more information on an energy audit or to schedule one, please call 800-489-7405 or click here to send us a message.
The next time you need a product for your home or business, look for an ENERGY STAR label. Products with the ENERGY STAR rating deliver the same or better performance as comparable models while using less energy and saving money. They are certified by a third-party based on testing in laboratories recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Visit the ENERGY STAR website to learn more about the ENERGY STAR program and see certified products, such as refrigerators, pool pumps, air-conditioning systems and televisions.
With First Electric Cooperative’s Home Improvement Loan Program, you don’t have to put off upgrading the energy efficiency of your home any longer. The program will allow you to finance a heat pump and its installation at a competitive, fixed-interest rate. In addition, you can include other energy efficiency products and repairs, such as:
- Duct systems and duct sealing
- Thermal improvements — insulation, caulking and ventilation
- Windows and doors
- Marathon electric water heaters (available through First Electric)
- Borrow as little as $500 or as much as $15,000
- Terms from 12 to 60 months
- Fixed-interest rate for the life of the loan
- No pre-payment penalty
- Payments included on monthly electric bill
Please note that you must own and occupy the property and demonstrate adequate credit history. Loans between $500 and $2,500 are secured with an equipment lien, and loans more than $2,500 are secured with a property mortgage and equipment lien. A $20 filing fee applies for loans less than $2,500, and a $60 filing fee applies for loans more than $2,500.
For more information on the loan program, please visit the Home Improvement Loan Program webpage or call 800-489-7405. All necessary documents to apply for a loan are available for download on the webpage.
Members wanting a safe, easy way to connect a generator during power outages can purchase a GenerLink™ from First Electric. The device is installed on your electric meter by a marketing representative. Once installed, you simply connect the generator to the GenerLink™ with the included cord. Then, use your household main circuit panel to select the circuits and appliances you want to operate based on the generator’s capacity.
For pricing, sizing and compatibility, call 800-489-7405 or click here. Qualifying members can pay $200 down and have the remaining balance included on their electric bill for the next 12 months.