Baton Rouge Family of 9 Wins National Home Energy-Efficiency Makeover Contest

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Late one night, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, homeowner Cathy Clites had a "Eureka moment." She decided to take the Eureka $mart House Energy-Efficiency Challenge to see if she could find ways to cut back on the high, $500 per month, household energy costs that her nine-member, three-generation family was struggling to pay. The makeover will be unveiled at the home on October 30.

We are thrilled with how many people were inspired by our multi-media public affairs campaign and with Cathy's commitment to share energy-efficiency information with her community.

Late one night, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, homeowner Cathy Clites had a "Eureka moment." She decided to take the Eureka $mart House Energy-Efficiency Challenge to see if she could find ways to cut back on the high, $500 per month, household energy costs that her nine-member, three-generation family was struggling to pay.

The Challenge, an energy-efficiency campaign by NBC Universal's SCI FI Channel, the Alliance to Save Energy, and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), offered low- and high-tech energy-efficiency, money-saving tips and surprising energy facts, as well as the chance to win a home energy-efficiency makeover.

Out of nearly 9,000 entries from across the country, the partners selected Cathy and her large family to receive a free, $25,000 energy-efficiency makeover of their four-bedroom, two-bath home that will be performed during October, which is National Energy Awareness Month.

Like many families today, Cathy's was touched by life-changing medical adversity. More than four years ago, Cathy's husband Charlie, a maintenance manager and three-tour Vietnam veteran, was disabled by a heart attack and then a massive stroke, leaving the family to rely on Veterans and Social Security disability benefits.

Charlie, the former breadwinner and "Mr. Fix-It," can no longer maintain the home, since he is wheelchair-bound and needs daily care. Overwhelmed since "my world changed," Cathy reveals she knows very little about fixing things around the house, home energy, or energy efficiency and "has to teach myself."

To help care for Charlie, daughter Sheri and her husband Nate Boyd and their four children, ages 2-10, moved into the Clites's home. They were later joined by Nate's older son, making a total of nine people living together under one roof. Even so, the generous family - already crowded in their home - made room for others by giving shelter to Hurricane Katrina victims who escaped from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.

"Energy-efficiency home makeovers for deserving families are among the most heartwarming things we do at the Alliance to Save Energy," notes Alliance President Kateri Callahan. "Energy-efficiency upgrades make a home more comfortable and affordable, while also reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. And, importantly, the makeovers let us show American families that you don't have to be rich to improve your home's efficiency and reduce your monthly utility bills.

"For example, Cathy Clites - after entering the makeover contest - went to the Alliance's 6° of Energy Efficiency Challenge website to learn more about energy efficiency and then took action on her own to replace some of her energy-guzzling incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)."

The 6° Challenge interactive social website (http://www.sixdegreechallenge.org) was created as part of another campaign spearheaded by the Alliance, The Dow Chemical Company, and the American Gas Association. Says Dow's Vice President for Energy Rich Wells, "We're encouraging others to go to the website to test their Energy IQs with six quick questions, take the 'Challenge' to commit to at least one energy-efficiency action, and encourage six friends and family members to do the same. Together, we can all make a difference in our world."

"The Eureka $mart House Energy Efficiency Challenge demonstrates how effectively SCI FI Channel utilized Eureka's characters and storylines to educate millions of Americans about critical energy issues and the simple steps each of us can take to really begin to make a difference," said Dave Howe, Executive Vice President and General Manager, SCI FI Channel. "We are thrilled with how many people were inspired by our multi-media public affairs campaign and with Cathy's commitment to share energy-efficiency information with her community."

"Our congratulations go to Cathy," says EEI President Thomas R. Kuhn. "Her enthusiasm for making her home more energy efficient is remarkable. Cathy knows that energy efficiency is smart. It not only benefits the homeowner, but their power company and the environment benefit too. On behalf of the nation's electric companies, I encourage everyone to contact their utility to find out how they can make their own home more energy efficient."

Based on an energy audit, the Clites family will receive energy-efficiency improvements worth up to $25,000 from the following campaign partners to create a "smarter" home:

  •     Overall energy audit to identify energy problems and document how to make the home more energy-efficient by CMC Energy Services;
  •     Whirlpool ENERGY STAR-labeled kitchen appliances;
  •     Computer and other energy-efficient electronics and wiring of the home by Consumer Electronics Association and its member companies;
  •     Energy-efficient compact fluorescent lighting by OSRAM Sylvania;
  •     Sealing of air leaks by The Dow Chemical Company; and
  •     Appropriate insulation for the climate, as well as a programmable thermostat, low-flow shower head, faucet aerator, ventilating fan, and much more.

Other participants in this national media partnership include the U.S. Department of Energy, the American Gas Association, and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute.

To meet this home's specific needs, the Alliance, which is conducting the makeover, is identifying additional product donors. The energy-efficiency home makeover will be documented later this month with photos on the SCI FI and Alliance websites.

The Alliance to Save Energy is a coalition of prominent business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, economy, and national security.

(Editor's note: Media who wish to cover the makeover should contact the Alliance.)

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RONNIE KWELLER
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