Water Heater Replaced by HomeServe Cares for Okmulgee Woman

Water Heater Replaced by HomeServe Cares for Okmulgee Woman

Typically, one of the first things Carla S. of Okmulgee, Oklahoma does in the mornings is hop into a hot shower. So, on one August day when the water was only getting lukewarm at best, she knew she had a problem. Sure enough, she ventured into her garage where her hot water heater was installed and noticed water leaking everywhere.

“The minute I saw the water in my garage, my heart sank into my stomach,” Carla recalled. “I knew that I couldn’t afford this type of emergency and started to pray for some sort of miracle.”

As someone who is on social security with no available savings, it’s no surprise that the situation sent Carla into a panic. It wouldn’t be feasible to live without hot water, and she didn’t have a backup plan or any sort of coverage on her water heater to help ease the financial burden. She did what many of us would do – vent about her situation on social media. And luckily for Carla, a longtime friend from high school, Lyle, came across her post. He is a decades-long employee at her utility company, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), a part of AEP, and he had a great idea on how he could help.

Through his job, he was aware of the work the HomeServe Cares Foundation has done for PSO customers, and he suggested Carla apply to see if she qualified for aid. The case was quickly approved, and before long, HomeServe reached out to begin the coordination of the repair. Air Assurance, a local and reliable member of HomeServe’s Contractor Network, was on site shortly afterward and began to assess what would be needed. The water heater needed to be replaced and brought up to code – a total savings for Carla of over $1,100 since HomeServe Cares picked up the bill.

“I’ve known Carla for a very long time and have seen her struggle both with her physical health and financially,” said Lyle, a Customer Services Account Representative at PSO. “I can’t explain how so very proud I am of AEP’s relationship with HomeServe and the community attentiveness demonstrated through actions like this.”

The HomeServe Cares Foundation works to assist eligible homeowners with free repairs when they are faced with a service emergency. HomeServe will arrange for emergency repairs at no cost to the homeowner through HomeServe’s network of local, licensed and qualified contractors.

“HomeServe came through for me in a way I never would have imagined,” Carla said. “You’ve taken so much weight off my shoulders by being willing to help me when I needed it most. There is no way I could have come up with the money to fix this on my own. I’m so thankful for the company and the HomeServe Cares program.”

To learn more about how your customers can benefit through the HomeServe Cares Foundation, contact us.

Air Conditioning Essential As Heat-related Illnesses Rise

Air Conditioning Essential As Heat-related Illnesses Rise

Climate change isn’t doing our infrastructure any favors as heat waves melt roofs, roadways and airport runways, burst water mains, kink railway ties and crack bridge supports.

The heat also is making us sick.

More than 700 people in the U.S. die each year of preventable heat-related illness, according to the Centers of Disease Control.

Not only are people – especially those who are most vulnerable, including children, the elderly, those with circulatory or pulmonary disorders and those without housing – being impacted with heat-related illnesses, more of us are simply getting sicker.

Doctors have seen a correlation between longer heat waves and intensifying heat-related illness, partially attributing the more serious illnesses to warmer nights that don’t allow the temperature to drop to a healthier level. They also reported seeing more heat-related illness not associated with typical causes like working, exercising or spending more time in the sun.

There is little done at a community level to address these concerns. Municipalities may open cooling centers, but they may be limited in scope, size or duration. Some public officials are encouraging their residents to go to shopping malls or other air conditioned public venues to avoid the heat.

There’s good reason officials urge residents to go to public spaces equipped with air conditioning. Heat-related deaths dropped by 80 percent between 1960 and 2004 as the number of homes with home air conditioning increased to 85 percent, according to a study conducted by Tulane and Carnegie Mellon universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Air conditioning can be a literal lifesaver.

In a study, it was found that among those self-reporting heat-related illnesses, one-third did not have working air conditioning, with those without air conditioning almost four times more likely to have experienced symptoms of heat exhaustion. The study also found that low-income households were more than three times as likely to not have working air conditioning.

Carol R. of Mason, Ill., would have fallen through the cracks if it hadn’t been for her energy co-operative, Southwestern Electric Cooperative.

She and her husband were older adults with a fixed income, and her husband suffered from a chronic pulmonary health problem. Additionally, they were often caretakers for their young grandchildren.

Her heat pump failed at the very beginning of the summer and she was without air conditioning. The estimated cost to repair the heat pump was more than $3,100, and the unit was less than a decade old. The cost to fix the heat pump represented a significant portion of their annual income.

“I was searching to find the money to replace it on Social Security,” she said.

Carol was doing more strenuous chores around the house early in the morning to beat the heat, but she knew that, for the sake of her husband and grandchildren, she needed to get the heat pump fixed.

“I don’t have any air,” she said. “Outside, it’s 95 degrees, and it’s 83 degrees in the house, and I’ve got six fans running – four in the living room, one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom, and we’ve got a dehumidifier running so we’re not dying.”

So, she reached out to Southwestern to find out if there was anything the co-op could do to assist, and the utility had an answer for her.

“They reached out and said, ‘we have this partner, HomeServe,’ she said.

HomeServe is a leading provider of emergency home repair plans, and, as part of our partnerships with utility providers, the HomeServe Cares Foundation provides pro-bono emergency repairs for qualifying homeowners. Southwestern helped make a connection between Carol and the Foundation, and the Foundation agreed to take on the repair for Carol.

“Oh my gosh, it was just intense, intense relief,” she said.

To learn how HomeServe can help you protect your most vulnerable members, contact us.

HomeServe Lends a Helping Hand to Homeowners in Need

HomeServe Lends a Helping Hand to Homeowners in Need

During the holidays, many of us are looking for ways to lend a helping hand to our friends and neighbors, and HomeServe is no exception – and we take that giving spirit with us throughout the year.

Our HomeServe Cares Foundation and Customer First Program provide pro bono home repairs to qualifying homeowners who are facing emergency home repairs that impact safety, sanitation and quality of life that they cannot afford. These programs are part of our efforts to be a good corporate citizen by offering assistance aligned with our expertise in home repair in the communities where we have partnerships and our employees and network contractors live and work.

This allows us to help people like Shirley, a Georgia resident who had an electrical box that was a complete mess, along with leaking water lines in her basement. Shirley’s electrical service box had a melted cable and burned-out wiring and was coming away from the exterior wall. Additionally, the meter box wiring was burned as well. This was a dangerous fire hazard and was preventing Shirley’s home from getting enough power. This meant her electrical service was intermittent, usually only one electrical wall socket worked, and Shirley’s stove and refrigerator did not get power.

When HomeServe learned about Shirley’s plight, we dispatched Edward Dicarlo of EAZY Electrical and Plumbing.

“We were shocked to see she still had power because it’s a dangerous situation, leaving a lug or meter box wiring burning,” Edward said. “It could have caused an electrical fire.”

Edward made some additional repairs at no charge to make things easier for Shirley, but, while he was doing the repairs, he noticed Shirley turned the water off at the meter unless she was using it. He also noticed that, when the water was on, it poured from the pipes in the basement – Shirley needed a new water service line and plumbing she couldn’t afford. The Foundation stepped in again to make Shirley’s home livable.

“The combination of the electrical and the plumbing in this particular house cost upward of $10,000, and this customer could not have made that happen on her own,” Edward said. “I believe this is going to affect her in a great way, and it’s going to create a better living situation.”

HomeServe also utilizes our network contractors and employees to help people struggling with problems with their sewage systems, like Mary Lynn of Kentucky, who started worrying about home maintenance after she lost her husband.

“My husband always took care of everything,” she said. “It didn’t matter what it was, he took care of it some way and somehow. After he passed, I knew that I had no one to depend on to do things around the house. We’ve been here all these years [40-plus years], and things might go wrong.”

Then Mary Lynn noticed a strange depression in her yard, and she only had partial use of her facilities.

“There was a sinkhole in the yard, and I got to worrying about it,” she said. “The next thing I know, it was bigger. Then came a lot of rain and it kept getting bigger and I didn’t know what it was.”

Her septic tank had completely collapsed and wasn’t covered by her homeowner’s insurance. The cost to replace it would be $2,975 – far more than Mary Lynn could afford on her fixed income. Fortunately, Mary Lynn was able to get her septic tank replaced with the help of HomeServe.

“I don’t know what I would have done if it wasn’t for your company and my electric company,” she said. “I will never forget how kind you all were to me, and I will never forget what you did for me as long as I live.”

HomeServe helps scores of people with free home repair emergencies every year, including Lewis of Colorado, an elderly veteran on a limited income whose beloved garden was put at risk when his outdoor faucet stopped working.

“I’ve been laid up for the last year, so my wife has been watering the flowers,” Lewis said. “Then she went to water the flowers, but the faucet wouldn’t work. It was plugged up. It must have been leaking, too, because when I paid my water bill, it was almost twice as much as usual.”

HomeServe dispatched a plumber to replace the faucet and fix the line, and the plumber took the time to explain how to drain the line and prepare the faucet for cold weather.

“I can’t do a repair if something goes wrong, and it’s been a life saver,” Lewis said. “We were happy with the work, very pleased. It’s been cold for the last few days, so we haven’t used it, but we will soon. We really appreciate HomeServe for taking care of the problem for us.”

Most of those HomeServe assists are low- and middle-income homeowners who do not have the savings to address much-needed repairs. All indications are the middle class – which shrank by 10 percent between 1971 and 2011, according to The Pew Trust – don’t have savings for financial shocks like unexpected home repairs. In our Winter 2021 State of the Home Survey, 13 percent of respondents said they had no money set aside, and nearly one-third said they had either less than $500 or no money set aside. That number jumped up to 60 percent for households that reported an annual income of $50,000 or less.

Many times, they have an unaffordable repair that is a safety hazard, like Shirley; or impacts sanitation, like Mary Lynn; or simply impacts quality or enjoyment of life, like Lewis. Not being able to address home repairs has long-lasting impacts on their daily life.

Utilities can help their LMI customers address this financial hurdle by partnering with HomeServe to offer optional, affordable plans that enable them to address home repair issues as they arise, instead of leaving them to linger until they pose a risk to the homeowner.

HomeServe offers a suite of emergency home repairs plans to fit every need, and we have a nationwide network of pre-vetted, licensed and insured contractors who are dispatched from our U.S.-based call center 24/7/365.

To learn more about our program and how we can offer peace of mind for low- and middle-income homeowners, contact us.



Central Air Conditioning Repair a Blessing to Jackson Homeowner

Central Air Conditioning Repair a Blessing to Jackson Homeowner

As a life-long resident of Jackson, Mississippi, Alfred D. is no stranger to the city’s hot summers.

For many years, he had a home air conditioning system to keep the humidity and high temperatures at bay. However, the retiree’s air conditioning system finally, after more than 20 years, gave up the ghost. He didn’t have the more than $7,000 needed for an air conditioning repair and repairs to ductwork beneath his home.

Alfred isn’t alone, because, according to HomeServe USA’s Biannual State of the Home Survey Summer 2018 edition approximately 20 percent of homeowners had an emergency HVAC repair in the last year, and 22 percent don’t have any funds set aside for such a repair, while 65 percent of those with an income of $50,000 or less had less than $500 set aside. The survey also revealed that one in three air conditioning systems are more than 10 years old – many homeowners are at risk of needing an air conditioning repair in the near future, but don’t have the funds to cover central air repairs.

Alfred set up seven fans throughout his home in an effort to keep cool in the grueling heat, but often had to leave his home and go elsewhere, including public buildings, shopping centers and relatives’ homes. He didn’t consider contacting any HVAC companies, since he couldn’t afford to have central air repairs done. His problems were compounded when he began providing childcare for two grandchildren after school – now, not only was he suffering from the sweltering heat, but so were they, and there seemed to be no relief on the horizon, since he couldn’t afford an air conditioning repair.

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“I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for next summer, but I figured I’d have to go through the same procedure,” Alfred said.

Brothers Tommy and Barry Dent, who operate Dent Air Conditioning Co., one of the area’s top-rated HVAC companies, knew they had to do something. Their father had installed Alfred’s original home air conditioning system back in the 1990s, and he was a long-time client of theirs. They knew that, even if he could afford it, Alfred wouldn’t go to other HVAC companies for his air conditioning repair.

The Dents knew that Alfred needed a new home air conditioning unit, and they knew just who could help make it happen: HomeServe, the national home warranty provider. The Dents nominated Alfred as a candidate for HomeServe Cares, which provides pro-bono repair work to qualifying, low-income homeowners who have an emergency home repair impacting their health and quality of life.

“I told [the Dents], OK, we’ll give it a shot and see what God has in store,” Alfred said.

That happened to be full central air repairs and needed repairs to duct work, all at no cost to Alfred. Dent Air got to work, and soon Alfred and his grandchildren were once again cool and comfortable.

Alfred had just this to say: “Thank you, HomeServe!”

HomeServe operates a network of contractors across the country and award-winning, around-the-clock, call centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. To learn more about how you can partner with HomeServe to offer customers peace of mind through affordable home warranties covering HVAC, water heaters, interior electric and electrical service lines and more, contact us. There is no cost to utilities, and the operation is entirely turn-key.

Water Heater Trouble Causes Financial Shock

Taking a cold bath is no fun, and the Martinez family of Florida found that out the hard way.

Only two years after the family, including their young children, moved into the home, Celinette noticed the water heater was leaky and rusty. Shortly thereafter, the entire family realized their hot showers didn’t stay hot for long.

“I just thought that we wouldn’t be able to afford a new [water heater], and we’d just get used to taking fast showers,” she said.

Replacing an electric water heater can cost from $1,000 to $1,600, with a gas-powered one costing an estimated $1,000 to $1,400 – a bill that can be overwhelming to homeowners with limited funds or a fixed income, especially as the economy recovers. Unfortunately, water heaters are one system that needs to be replaced more frequently – every eight to 12 years for tank-style heaters and approximately every 15 to 20 for a tankless version. That lifespan can be shortened if an area has hard water or the water heater is located in an unheated area where the heater has to labor harder in the winter months. Tank-style water heaters should have the tank drained and the sediment washed out regularly, but many homeowners aren’t aware of this maintenance chore.


When a water heater is approaching the end of its useable lifespan, a cracked tank may leak and cause rusting – just the situation the Martinez family found themselves in. Many other homeowners are positioned to find themselves in similar situations – 40 percent of Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency expense according to the Federal Reserve Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households.

Fortunately for the Martinez family, HomeServe was able to help replace the water heater at no cost to them through the HomeServe Cares Foundation’s Caring for People program and they’re enjoying hot showers again. Caring for People provides pro bono emergency home repairs that impact safety, health and quality of life to qualifying homeowners.

“I was ecstatic and super grateful for the opportunity to have this installed in my house,” Celinette said. “When I heard it was a high-efficiency water heater, I realized I’m going to save a lot of money on my water bill.”

For information on partnering with us to offer your energy consumers peace of mind and the HomeServe Cares Foundation, contact us.