Contest to Help 3 NC Families Benefit from Home Energy Efficiency

Rory McIlmoil, Energy Policy Director, 828-262-1500,
Cat McCue, Communications Director, 434-293-6373,

Boone, N.C. — Area residents are invited to enter the “High Country Home Energy Makeover Contest” to win a grand prize of at least $3,000 in home energy improvements designed to save money on their monthly electricity bills for years to come. Two runners-up will each win up to $1,000 of energy efficiency improvements on their homes.

The contest was officially launched today by Appalachian Voices, a Boone-based nonprofit conservation organization whose mission is to protect the region’s communities and natural resources by promoting a shift to a clean energy future. Four local businesses that provide home energy retrofits are supporting the contest in various ways, including performing the home improvements for the three winners. The business sponsors are Blue Ridge Energy Works, LLC, High Country Energy Solutions, Inc., HomEfficient, and Sunny Day Homes, Inc. Other contest sponsors are the Blumenthal Foundation and ResiSpeak.

The deadline to enter is November 15, by midnight. Only residential members of Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp. (BREMCO) are eligible.

Representatives of Appalachian Voices will be at numerous public locations throughout the contest period, including the weekly Watauga County Farmers’ Market and the Todd New River Festival this Saturday, to promote the contest and distribute applications.

“We’re excited to be able to help three local families in need save money on their electric bills and enjoy healthier, more comfortable homes, and also to engage all our neighbors in the High Country in the broader conversation about the many benefits of home energy efficiency,” says Rory McIlmoil, Energy Policy Director at Appalachian Voices.

The benefits of energy efficiency, McIlmoil says, include saving families money and improving their homes, creating and sustaining local jobs retrofitting houses, and strengthening local economies due to families spending the money they’ve saved on local goods and services. In addition, reducing wasted energy means less carbon emissions and other pollution from dirty fossil fuels.

“Home energy efficiency is the single most direct way you can make a contribution to a clean energy future,” says Sam Zimmerman, owner of Sunny Day Homes. “You know when you retrofit your house that you have reduced the need for fossil fuels to be dug up out of the ground and combusted.”

The “High Country Home Energy Makeover Contest” is timed to coincide with the coming winter season, when many families in the area see their electric bills skyrocket due to wasted energy resulting from poor insulation, leaky windows and doors, and inefficient heating systems. It covers the BREMCO service area — generally, Alleghany, Ashe, Caldwell and Watauga counties, and parts of Avery, Alexander and Wilkes counties.

Appalachian Voices is launching the contest as part of a broader campaign to generate public support for BREMCO to offer loans to its members to pay for home energy efficiency upgrades that can be paid back by the money they save each month on their electric bills. Such “on-bill financing” programs have been extremely successful in other places, including in areas of North Carolina served by rural electric cooperatives.

“While we are helping three families through this contest, thousands of other High Country households need help to reduce their energy bills,” says McIlmoil. “The contest will help make the case that BREMCO should offer on-bill energy efficiency financing to its members.”

Says local businessman Zimmerman: “It’s within everyone’s grasp, it’s simple to understand. When financing is available, people borrow money to make improvements, and they use the savings to pay off the loan. Everything we need is ‘on the shelf,’ we just need the cultural and policy changes to make it happen.”


Appalachian Voices is a nonprofit organization that brings people together to protect the communities and natural resources of the region by promoting a shift from harmful, polluting energy practices, including mountaintop removal coal mining, to a cleaner, more just and sustainable energy future. With 23 staff in offices in Boone, N.C., Charlottesville, Va., Knoxville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C., Appalachian Voices works at the local, state and federal level, focusing on grassroots organizing and policy reform.