Small task can have big impact on energy costs
Co-op holding online auction until 2 p.m. Sept. 10
High heat can mean higher electricity usage
Phone scam reaching First Electric members
Bauxite couple selected as makeover prize winners
Offices to be closed Sept. 7 for Labor Day
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
Five seniors selected to receive First Electric scholarships
Maintaining rights-of-way keeps people safe, prevents outages
Co-op crews follow system when restoring power
Use Co-op Connections Card to save money on prescriptions
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.
First Electric has purchased land near the Salem community to move and expand the Benton operations center. It previously was Page’s Paint and Quarter Horses. Before construction may begin, we are holding an online auction of the equipment, appliances and fixtures that were left. Click here to view the items and make bids. The auction closes at 2 p.m. Sept. 10. View items in person during an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 8 at 8229 Congo Road in Benton.
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.
First Electric Cooperative wants members to be aware of a phone scam that is trying to take their money. Members have reported being called by an individual claiming to be from Entergy who says their account is past due. They were asked to send money immediately using Kroger’s money services or risk having their electricity disconnected.
First Electric will not threaten members in this manner and never requires members to use a third-party payment method. Those who want to confirm they are speaking with a First Electric employee are encouraged to hang up and call the co-op’s toll-free number at 800-489-7405. In addition, the co-op strongly urges members to protect their credit card and checking account numbers, account user names, passwords and Social Security numbers.
Those who have been contacted by one of these scammers, or are victims of a scam, are encouraged to contact First Electric. Members always may pay their electric bill securely using SmartHub or calling 844-PAY-FECC (844-729-3322).
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.
First Electric Cooperative will award a $2,000 college scholarship to five high school seniors. Recipients are: Lauren Barnett of Casscoe, Jaden Daniels of Carlisle, Allison Edwards of Perryville, Bridget Muse of Heber Springs and Sally Owens of Mabelvale.
Scholarships are funded by the co-op’s Operation Round-Up program. First Electric members who participate in Operation Round-Up volunteer to have their monthly electric bill rounded up to the next even dollar amount. That money is held in a trust and given as scholarships to high school seniors and as donations to local nonprofit organizations. Members may enroll in Operation Round-Up here or by calling 800-489-7405.
Keeping trees and other vegetation away from First Electric Cooperative’s 10,000 miles of power lines is necessary to keep the community safe and to help minimize power outages.
“All lines are maintained on at least a five-year schedule,” said Tim Felty, right-of-way maintenance supervisor. “In more populated areas, First Electric employees and contractors maintain the 15-foot clearance on either side of the line on a four-year schedule.”
Trees and other vegetation touching lines conduct electricity and can cause power quality issues, such as blinking lights. Trees also cause outages when they fall and take down lines and damage equipment. Most importantly, trees touching lines pose a safety hazard to anyone who comes into contact with them. Members are asked to call First Electric at 800-489-7405 if they notice a tree or other vegetation in or close to lines. A right-of-way crew will evaluate the situation and determine if tree removal or branch trimming is necessary.
In 2015, right-of-way maintenance is scheduled in the following areas: Drasco, Tannebaum, Romance, Rosebud, Seaton, Cabot and Mountain Springs.
First Electric members can help the co-op maintain its rights-of-way in several ways. First, consider the mature height of a tree before planting. Second, contact Arkansas One-Call at 811 at least 48 hours before digging so that underground utilities may be marked. Third, avoid planting fast-growing trees near the right-of-way. Gum, sycamore, locust and pine are trees that Felty does not recommend be planted within 40 feet of lines. Lastly, consider clearances needed to perform maintenance on underground facilities before landscaping near pad-mounted transformers.
Right-of-way maintenance is a priority at First Electric and necessary to provide the best service possible. Members can assist the co-op by following planting guidelines and reporting potential problems to 800-489-7405. As always, we appreciate your cooperation when working in your area.
For more information, please visit the Vegetation Management page.
Restoring power during widespread outages involves much more than flipping a switch or removing a fallen tree off a line. At each stage of the restoration process, First Electric crews work to restore power safely to the greatest number of our members in the shortest time possible.
Remember to report an outage, even if you think a neighbor already has. This helps co-op employees isolate and repair the problem. Just call 888-827-3322 or use SmartHub.
Here are the steps we take when restoring power:
- High-voltage Transmission Lines: Transmission towers and cables that supply power to transmission substations (and thousands of members) rarely fail. When damaged, though, these facilities must be repaired before other parts of the system can operate.
- Distribution Substation: First Electric has 43 substations, each serving up to thousands of members. When a major outage occurs, line crews inspect the substation to determine if problems stem from transmission lines feeding into the substation or the substation itself or an issue down the line.
- Main Distribution Lines: If the problem cannot be isolated at a distribution substation, distribution lines are checked. These lines carry power to large groups of members in communities or housing developments. When power is restored at this stage, all members served by this supply line could see the lights come on, as long as there is no problem farther down the line.
- Tap Lines: If an outage persists, supply lines, also called tap lines, are inspected. These lines deliver power to transformers, either mounted on poles or placed on pads for underground service, outside businesses, schools and homes.
- Individual Homes: If a home remains without power, the service line between a transformer and the home may need to be repaired. This can explain why you have no power when your neighbor does. This illustrates why it is important for you always to report an outage.
Sometimes an outage is caused by a problem with the service installation on your home, business or other building. First Electric can’t fix anything beyond our equipment, so a licensed electrician is needed in those cases.
Individual households may receive special attention if loss of electricity affects life support systems or poses another immediate danger. If you or a family member depends on life support, please call 800-489-7405 before an emergency arises. When widespread outages occur, First Electric crews will fix the problem as soon as possible.
First Electric Cooperative members can use their free Co-op Connections Card to save from 10 percent to 85 percent on most prescriptions at participating independent pharmacies and national chains, such as Walmart and Walgreens.
In 2014, First Electric members used their cards to save $85,000 – or 44 percent – off the retail cost of their prescriptions.
To locate providers in your area, you can:
- Call 800-800-7616.
- Look on the back of your Co-op Connections Card, find the group and member numbers and use them to log in here. Next, enter your ZIP code to search for nearby pharmacies.
You can use the card as many times as needed. Please note that pharmacy discounts are not insurance and are not intended as a substitute for insurance.
The Co-op Connections Card also can help you save on chiropractic, dental and vision care as well as lab work and hearing aids. In addition, First Electric recruits local businesses – restaurants, auto shops, hair salons, fitness centers, florists and more – to offer discounts to our members.
Touchstone Energy, a national alliance of more than 600 electric cooperatives, has recruited more than 100 national chains, such as Sprint, Best Western and Shari’s Berries, to offer cooperative members national discounts.
Click here for participating businesses and their deals. Any local business that is interested in offering a discount to co-op members may call 800-489-7405 and ask to speak with the marketing department.
Need a new card? Stop by a First Electric office, or click here to print your own.