Monday, August 9, 2010

Valley Students Help Spread Valuable Energy Saving Techniques

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Summer time is in full swing and anybody that has lived in the Valley for any length of time knows that means a ton of heat and a lot of staying indoors with the A/C on full blast. But those who have to pay the electric bill at the end of the month know that there are always ways to reduce their energy costs.

So South Texas College teamed up with TXU Energy for the second year for TXU Energy’s Home Energy Makeover Program. The makeover is meant to take an existing home and turn it into a more energy efficient home to help homeowners learn inexpensive fixes that can help them save money and help the environment at the same time.

Furthermore, students from STC’s Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Program and Electrician Assistant Program were able to volunteer, taking what they learned in the classroom and putting it into real world use.
“This is a great opportunity for us to apply what we have learned in our books and use it in the real world,” said Martin Lopez, a student in the college’s HVACR Program. “We are getting hands on training and that’s awesome.”

This year’s recipient of the TXU Home Energy Makeover was Evelyn Quintero, an STC student and student employee at the college. She was selected because of her family’s record of service to the college and the community. Currently, three members of the Quintero family work in the college’s Student Affairs Division, helping students from across the Valley realize a brighter future.

And the makeover couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for the Quintero family, especially since Evelyn’s older sister just had a baby, another sister is getting married and her brother is home for the summer from dental school.

“We are very grateful and excited; we can’t wait to see what the results of this makeover will do to lower our electricity bill,” said Evelyn. “The money we will be saving will help out with caring for my nephew.”

After three hours of hard work by seven STC students, the Quintero house is now suited with 51 energy-saving light bulbs, water heater insulation, light socket insulation, window solar screens, a programmable thermostat, a clean air conditioner and new AC filters.

“With these low-cost improvements, the family could see up to a 20 percent annual savings in energy costs,” said TXU Energy spokeswoman Sophia Stoller. ”What is important to note is that the family has to also work to change behaviors to bring costs down, including turning off lights when not in a room to unplugging appliances when not in use. Anyone, of any income level can do their own home makeover, paired with behavior modification, and can save money on their energy costs.

“Also, I want to stress that all these improvements are healthy for the environment,” added Stoller. “For instance, the new, energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights STC students installed last for years instead of months producing less trash and environmental toxins. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

But at the end of the day, the project was about students helping students.

“It was great to see a student open her home to our students, who are excited to apply their new skills,” said Mario Reyna, STC division dean of business and technology. “We have exceptional training programs for these gold collar careers, with instructors that have worked in the field for years. And these types of service learning opportunities ensure our students are at the top of their games when they graduate. We look forward to a continued partnership with TXU Energy to prepare the HVACR and electrician assistant professionals of tomorrow.”

For more information about STC’s HVACR Program e-mail Esteban Quintero at For more information about STC’s Electrician Assistant Program e-mail Ricardo Olivarez at

Photo caption:
STC students and instructors celebrate with the Quintero Family following their work to complete another successful TXU Energy Home Energy Makeover. From left front are Ricardo Olivarez, STC electrician assistant instructor; STC students Martin Lopez, Jose Nunez, Jessie Sanchez, Orlando Lopez and Robert Ramirez; and Estaban Quintero, STC HVACR instructor. From left back are Arturo Canizales, STC student; Mikkel Adriel Galvan, Enrique Quintero, Anthony Villarreal, Evelyn Quintero and Elsa Coria de Quintero; and Gary Bergeron, STC student.

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