by | Dec 4, 2019

By Caleb Jones I

I love the Ford pickup I drive. I just wish it got better gas mileage. When I am out on the road, it seems like it wants to pull into every gas station I pass.

I wish I could walk into the nearest Break Time or Casey’s and ask them what I can do to use less fuel. My guess is that request would be greeted with the sounds of crickets chirping and not much else.

Likewise when I see the bill for the latest trip to the grocery store I feel it in the wallet, every time. It’s not cheap feeding a family of four that includes two rapidly growing kids. Too bad Hy-Vee or Gerbes doesn’t have an employee to provide counseling on how to stretch the time between grocery store trips.

I can only think of one business that goes out of its way to help you use less of what it sells — your electric cooperative.

I’ve heard stories about the formative years for electric cooperatives when they needed every nickel and dime just to keep the doors open. Yet they still encouraged members to install timers on their water heaters so they only operated when necessary.

Those energy-efficiency ideas follow a time-honored rural tradition of, “take all you need, but need all you take.” I bet you’ve heard your parents or grandparents say that many times.

This policy was formalized in a big way by Associated Electric Cooperative when it launched its “Take Control & Save” program. Associated, which generates the electricity for most of Missouri’s electric cooperatives, saw the program as a way to postpone the need for a new power plant while also saving money for members.

It’s a concept some in the industry call “Nega-Watts.” The idea is if you can reduce your electricity usage, you don’t have to generate the electricity in the first place.  That way, your cooperative doesn’t have to buy more electricity to provide for you and, most importantly, you end up with a lower electric bill.

Through the Take Control & Save program rebates help members pay for new energy-efficient appliances. The list of available rebates is long and includes energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

Electric co-ops have given away thousands of money-saving light bulbs. They’ve also offered energy audits that reveal all the ways a homeowner, farmer or business can make the most of the energy used.

Sometimes these tips are as simple as caulking around a leaky window or replacing the seal on a refrigerator. Or the audit could point toward the need for more insulation in the attic, new lighting at a church or a ground-source heat pump for a school.

The amount of electricity saved by the program is incredible. Over the life of the energy saving measures, it equals enough electricity to power all of the residences in a city the size of Springfield.

There are people at your electric co-op whose job is to ensure you can afford your electric bill every month. They are experts in the field who stay abreast of all the latest energy-saving technology available today.

You can look at what they do as our gift to you, not just at Christmas time but during the entire year.

Now if they could only do something for that pickup of mine …

From my family to yours, I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and all the best in the new year.

Jones is the executive vice president and CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

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