Kentucky great-grandmother saves money and energy through a Federal Home Loan Bank program
Family photographs hang from every wall of Ann Darnall’s Hardin, Kentucky, home. Children’s toys are neatly tucked away in the corner, waiting for her two great-grandsons to visit and scatter them on the floor.
“I have been called Boda since my grandson was born,” recalls Darnall. “When he was little, he’d call me Boda. We tried to tell him I wasn’t Boda, but he insisted I was. So everybody calls me Boda.”
When Ann and her husband, Jerry, found themselves empty nesters in the early 1990s, the couple decided to downsize and found a unique home — a basement house. It was built underground, so the land surrounds three sides of the home like a blanket. The builder had intended to add another floor, but the Darnalls liked the coziness of the basement house.
“We’ve been here ever since. It just worked out to be what we needed,” says the now 80-year-old.
Their family grew by one when a little terrier mix named Dolly joined the couple almost 13 years ago. Darnall says her husband spoiled their pup until he passed away two years ago. She’s managed the house’s upkeep with her family’s help but needed help with her bills on a single fixed income.
“My local power company [West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation (WKRECC)] called me and asked me if I wanted to participate in Home Uplift,” says Darnall.
David Smart, WKRECC chief executive officer, says Darnall’s basement home provided some natural energy efficiency, but heating and cooling her home with plug-in fans was not saving her money.
“Home Uplift helps recipients save at least 25% on their energy costs every month,” says Smart. “Right now, with the cost of everything going up, we’re actually helping lower one of their costs through Home Uplift.”
For Darnall, that meant having window units removed and replaced with new mini-splits in her living room and bedroom, along with attic insulation and a new fan in the bathroom. As a result, Darnall says she’s saving money and feels more comfortable in her home.
“The air feels cleaner and drier, which is helping with my COPD,” says Darnall. Research shows poor indoor air quality can aggravate preexisting medical conditions like asthma, emphysema or COPD. After a home is weatherized, people report having fewer bad health days and fewer doctor or emergency department visits.
Tim Hughes, TVA EnergyRight energy services consultant, says the goal of Home Uplift is to provide free home weatherization upgrades to income-eligible homeowners.
“Many folks are heating their home[s] in the winter by turning on an electric oven and opening the door or using kerosene space heaters instead of having a heating and cooling unit that works. That’s something we tend to take for granted. But some of these homes, like Ms. Darnall’s, didn’t have that.”
Darnall’s home is one of 35 Home Uplift homes in the WKRECC service territory funded partly by the Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program. WKRECC, in partnership with the Purchase Area Development District, received $200,000 from the Affordable Housing Program, with EnergyRight matching the loan for a total of $400,000.
In addition to the upgrades made inside Darnall’s home, she also received beautification work in her yard thanks partly to the loan and to a donation from The Murray Bank and Lowe’s Home Improvement.
“We did some landscaping and tidying up around the property,” Hughes says. “Ms. Darnall is a huge University of Kentucky basketball fan, so we made sure to put the Wildcats mascot front and center.”
“I just love it,” says Darnall. “I’m so thankful to EnergyRight and WKRECC for this opportunity.”
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