City energizes efficient residents

Wayne Searles received a gift from the city of Newton on Thursday.
The gift even promises to help Searles save money.

Representatives from the city and ElectriCities delivered an energy-efficiency kit to Searles and his family at their home in east Newton.

"We want to help you get that power bill down," Newton Mayor Robert Mullinax said. "And if you ever have any questions, just give us a call."

The visit was part of "Day of Caring," a Public Power Week event where city leaders and electric utility employees visit residents to talk about the power system and deliver tools to help residents with their energy costs. Newton leaders visited several residents Thursday.

ElectriCities is a nonprofit organization that provides rate services, government relations and other assistance to cities that own their own power systems.

Representative Mia Bailey presented an energy kit to Searles. The box included a low-flow showerhead, energy-saving light bulbs, refrigerator and room thermometers, a hot water gauge, a furnace air filter whistle and a sealant that keeps energy from escaping through cracks in a home.

"Anything to save a little bit," Searles said. "Every penny helps."

Searles said he's been laid off several times in recent years and money is tight.

The city asked its utilities customer service department to identify good customers who could use help saving money on their bills, said Gary Herman, the city's public information officer.

“The ‘Day of Caring’ is a special time where we have the opportunity to visit some of our customers and lend a helping hand," Herman said.

"These energy-efficiency kits are a way that the city can show that we truly care for our customers.”

Searles said his family previously tallied more expensive power bills before moving to Newton. He already had a few energy-efficient light bulbs in his home.

"Bulbs are expensive though," he said. "So these are handy to have."