by Peter Buttrick | Nov 30, 2022
Anita I. and her family had to be innovative to survive a winter after experiencing a furnace failure in their Dunbar, West Virginia, home.
Anita placed small heaters in bedrooms and the living room, but the electric system in the home couldn’t handle any more, leaving other parts of the home, such as the kitchen, unheated during one of the coldest winters in nearly a decade.
“No matter how I moved them around, there was no power to heat the kitchen,” Anita said.
Heating the home that she shares with several of her grandchildren with space heaters was also anxiety-inducing for Anita, despite having no heat because of the furnace failure.
“I was so scared that the house was going to catch on fire,” she said. “I didn’t sleep well at all. I was constantly getting up in the middle of the night to check on them.”
Additionally, because her furnace failure, her home got so cold that her water lines froze six times.
“We had no water at all – thank God that it didn’t last for days at a time,” she said. “We kept bottled water for the kids to drink, and we got smart and would plug up the sinks to keep enough water to flush the toilet and tried to be inventive. We would pray for it to warm up, because we didn’t have water anywhere in the house.”
Anita was dreading the prospect of facing another winter without heat, little sleep and freezing pipes because.
“My daughter and I have been praying,” she said. “We called in a company, and they said it would cost $6,000 to fix our heater, and there was no way I to come up with that money. I just started thinking: how can I go through another winter like this?”
Then, Anita’s daughter spotted an article online about the HomeServe Cares Foundation, the charitable arm of HomeServe North America. Among other community outreach projects, the Foundation provides free emergency home repairs to qualifying homeowners that address safety and sanitary issues or improve quality of life. Anita and her daughter reached out to the Foundation for help, and Tamara (Tammy) Gross, a HomeServe customer experience specialist, was assigned to assist them.
“Tammy made me feel so wonderful,” Anita said. “I didn’t want to feel like I was begging, and she didn’t make me feel that way.”
Tammy connected Anita with McAtee Plumbing Heating and Cooling, a contractor with whom HomeServe regularly works, and a technician was sent out to evaluate her furnace failure. They found that the unit was over 30 years old, and it would be unsafe to repair it, so it would have to be replaced.
“The first gentleman who came out to check and see if it was repairable, as he was leaving the house, I told him, ‘Please pray that it goes through,’ and he just gave me the biggest smile and said he sure would. The young men they sent out were very respectful.”
The Foundation agreed with the assessment that the furnace needed to be replaced and covered the entire $3,100 cost of parts and labor.
“God has to have his hands over your company, because I am in awe over what you did for me,” Anita said. “You were such a blessing to me and my family. I thank God for you and call you angels because you are angels to me. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but now I’ll be able to sleep at night.”
To learn how you can help your customers avoid furnace failure and get a good night’s sleep, contact us.
by Peter Buttrick | Nov 9, 2022
A major retrofit with an eye toward energy efficiency, including energy efficient heating, new windows, installing LED bulbs, improving insulation, replacing roofs and taking other actions to seal the thermal envelope can cut home energy use at least in half, according to an American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) study. Residential energy usage averages about 10,632 kWh annually per customer or a total of 21% of overall energy usage.
Deep retrofits would cut household energy use by 58% to 79%, depending on the age of the home, and there is an appetite for making retrofits in order to improve sustainability and energy efficiency. In a poll conducted by HomeServe on LinkedIn, 35% of those surveyed said they were considering replacing or upgrading their home’s insulation, matched by those who expressed a desire to install energy efficient windows, also at 35%, followed by those interested in upgrading to energy efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning at 30%.
However, the average cost for these retrofits from to $42,600 to $56,750, according to ACEEE – an expensive proposition. In the HomeServe poll, only 15% said they expected to spend more than $20,000, while 25% said they’d spend $10,000 to $20,000, 27% would spend $5,000 to $10,000 and one-third said they planned to spend $5,000 or less on energy efficiency measures. There’s a clear gap between what respondents plan to invest and the investment needed to move the needle on sustainability and energy efficiency.
Additionally, energy prices are the highest they’ve been in more than 40 years, increasing by almost 16% for electricity and 33% for natural gas. Partly driving the cost was a muggy summer that resulted in a record use of residential power in the third quarter of 2022.
Those mounting costs could add to mounting utility debt – U.S. families have approximately $16 billion in utility debt, almost doubled from the end of 2019, with $792 the average amount owed. The National Energy Assistance Directors Association warns that, paired with the rising costs, continued high arrearages will continued to be accrued, despite the additional $4.5 billion added to LIHEAP as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.
In HomeServe’s poll, 53% of respondents said they were interested in making their homes more sustainable and energy efficient to save money on their energy bills, while another 25% said they wanted to help protect the environment and 23% wanted to increase their home value.
Rising energy costs and households struggling with being energy burdened may have influenced the energy efficiency measures poll respondents said they would like to incorporate into their homes – the majority, 60%, were considering rooftop solar panels, followed by a smart device to monitor their energy usage at 16%, a home electric vehicle charger at 13% and a home storage battery at 11%.
The largest energy consuming appliance in a home – and greatest opportunity to improve energy efficiency – is the HVAC system, which uses, on average, about 55% of a household’s energy. The HomeServe Advantage Program can help households across the market replace older, inefficient HVAC systems with high efficiency systems, all for one easily budgeted monthly subscription price. The program handles everything from home energy assessments and financing to installation and maintenance and repairs. Additionally, the installation includes a Honeywell T10 Smart Thermostat that uses a patented algorithm and local weather data to reduce runtime by 9% on average.
To learn more about how you can bring this affordable, energy efficiency program to your customers, contact us.
by HomeServe USA | Jul 9, 2021
Jessica G. of Albuquerque was struggling with degenerative nerve disease and late-stage cancer, but she had the support of her extended family and her business, SOS of New Mexico, to keep her occupied.
As a long-time, second-generation business owner, she was able to continue to work running background checks out of a home office space, having taken over the business from her mother. Jessica also had the comfort of her extended family, including her mother, son, daughter and two grandchildren, surrounding and helping her.
Jessica didn’t have it easy, but she had a strong support network and fulfilling work.
Everything Goes Wrong at Once
Then came the day when the family found water spreading across the floor after the hot water heater had burst. “My son’s carpet was wet and we thought the dog’s water spilled, but you stepped on it and [half an inch] of water came to the top,” Jessica said.
The family received more bad news when they learned that their furnace needed expensive repairs as the winter months quickly approached. “Six [valves] went out at one time,” Jessica said. “It was starting to get cold at night, and my daughter has a newborn and a two-year-old.”
With a new baby in the home, the malfunctions had come at the worst possible time. The family couldn’t financially handle so much going wrong at once. “I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Jessica said.
People like Jessica, who face serious illness, are particularly financially vulnerable. Those battling cancer are two and a half times more likely to go bankrupt, even though approximately 75 percent have health insurance when they are diagnosed. Financial difficulty makes recovering even more difficult.
Turning to a Trusted Friend
Facing a winter with a faulty furnace and no hot water, Jessica turned to Eric Maxon, Steward’s Plumbing president, with whom she’d been a member of a business association.
“My first thought was Steward’s Plumbing,” Jessica said. “There’s no one in Albuquerque I trust more.”
Steward’s Plumbing had done Jessica’s plumbing work for years, because she trusted their competency and professionalism and they understood her home’s heating and plumbing systems. Having a plumber who is trustworthy and competent, without having to seek out and contact multiple plumbers to receive quotes, was important to her.
Steward’s Plumbing is a HomeServe USA network contractor, and Eric was familiar with the home repair company’s charitable arm, HomeServe Cares, which provides home repairs at no cost to those who qualify. “I’ve known Jessica for years,” Eric said. “We’ve worked together on several projects, and getting these repairs done would be life-changing for her and her family.”
A National Company Steps In to Help
In order to become a HomeServe network contractor, Steward’s Plumbing employees had to pass background checks and drug screenings, and the company’s insurance, license and certification was confirmed. In addition, the company must maintain an A rating with the Better Business Bureau and a high customer satisfaction percentage. HomeServe uses local contractors, because not only are they close by and convenient, but they are familiar with local permitting processes and building codes.
Eric reached out to HomeServe and proposed Jessica and her family as candidates for HomeServe Cares. HomeServe agreed to help the family and dispatched Steward’s Plumbing to replace the hot water heater and repair valves in the radiant heat furnace.
“I couldn’t believe he and HomeServe worked so diligently to make this happen for me,” Jessica said. “Thank you, HomeServe!”
To learn more about how we can help people in our community, contact us.