MONCTON – Remember that show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”? That’s kind of what Moncton’s Greenfoot Energy Solutions is trying to do for deserving homeowners in the Maritimes. Except, it will focus on making the home energy-efficient rather than look pretty.
Last April, the company renovated the home of Reginald (Reggie) Savoie in Campbellton on the nomination of his neighbour, Adrienne Caissie. The makeover is expected to save him around $2,000 in energy costs over a year.
“[Reggie] had no idea what was happening. He thought we were going to do an energy audit and then all the trucks showed up and we told him what we were doing. We try to keep the surprise element,” says Roy Vandermaar, Greenfoot’s PEI Operations Manager and energy advisor.
“He was quite stunned. It was really overwhelming for him. All these people showed up and sort of took over his house, and we just worked in it and he was just kind of watching us all. He was thrilled but he was having to take it all in.”
Caissie and her husband had nominated Savoie for the program because the 60-year-old man was struggling to pay his nearly $700-a-month electricity bill. Savoie was facing hardships after his wife, the breadwinner of the family, passed away two years ago. He has since lived alone with his dog.
“It’s overwhelming. I just couldn’t believe that he would get help,” said Caissie. “I mean, you can talk to anybody around town that knows Reggie. If anybody deserved it, he’s a neighbour that helped anybody. I mean, he’ll give you a shirt off his back and when they said that they were gonna come and help, it was just emotional for everyone.”
“He’s got one little salary coming in, and he works in the summertime and [spends] six months on unemployment. And he doesn’t make big wages because he can hardly read. He doesn’t have much education.”
Savoie’s 1,200-square-foot home was the first to be made over through this program. Greenfoot insulated the basement, doors and windows, added a heat pump, and changed the light bulbs and showerhead to conserve energy. Greenfoot’s partners like EMCO and NB Power donated some of the equipment and material. Greenfoot’s staff also donated their time, and the rest came from the company’s own pocket. Ninety per cent of the work was done in a day.
Greenfoot prides itself in being able to give back to the community. Reginald had a tough year and we were blessed to have the opportunity to help him lower his annual utility costs.Thanks to everyone involved who came together to make this happen. Special thanks to Joe Waugh from NB Power and his team for making the trip, Beacon Hill productions Beacon Hill Productions – Russell Smith for creating this great production and EMCO HVAC for donating a ductless mini-split heat pump. Looking forward to our next makeover project.
Posted by GreenFoot Energy Solutions on Thursday, April 27, 2017
Roy Vandermar, the PEI Operations Manager and Energy Advisor at Greenfoot, said the program is a way for the company to give back to the community while also gaining exposure.
“[We’re doing this for free] just because we can I guess,” he said. “We’re turning into quite a large company and we want to give back. Our staff is on board, our suppliers are on board. We’re doing something great for someone and we’re also gaining a lot of exposure. We got a lot of good feedback from the first one we did. If we can generate some business from that, it’s a win-win situation.”
Each project is a significant investment on Greenfoot’s part, Vandermaar said.
“Just to give you an idea, that house we did in Campbellton, for that gentleman to insulate his basement, the cost to the homeowner would be around $3,000 to $4,000, the attic [changes] would cost around $3,000, and the heat pump can vary between $3,500 to $4,500,” he explained.
Greenfoot is now looking for three more homes to makeover, one each in every province they operate in. The next home to be made over is on PEI, but Greenfoot also plans to renovate one house in New Brunswick and one in Nova Scotia.
“We haven’t decided yet. We’re still accepting nominations,” he said.
Greenfoot assesses energy use in homes, new constructions and commercial buildings and implements its recommendations. It provides energy retrofitting for such structures.
The company now has around 53 employees in Moncton, Halifax and Charlottetown. It’s currently working to establish satellite offices in the three provinces where it operates.
Caissie encourages others to nominate their family, friends and neighbours because the makeover has a long-term impact.
“By helping him a little bit it’s a good feeling. Everybody benefits from it, really,” she said.
“I hope they can do the same for someone else in need. It’s a good feeling. I can see how grateful Reginald was. He was just in shock. Even today, when he talks about it, he’s got tears, like, ‘I can’t believe somebody would do that for me’.”