HomeServe Helps a Young Couple with a Major Repair

HomeServe Helps a Young Couple with a Major Repair

Adam and Jennifer F. loved the first home they bought together, a historic 100 year old house in a quiet Wichita neighborhood – but they didn’t love the sewer line problems that came with it.

The couple bought the home knowing that the sewer line would need attention, and Adam and a friend rented equipment and spent hours cleaning out the line. The couple believed that would keep the problem from worsening until they were able to implement a more permanent fix.

However, within two years, the couple noticed they once again were experiencing drainage problems.

“I thought, ‘I just fixed that,’” Adam said. “I didn’t think it had been long enough to have another problem.”

But it was – one of the features of the backyard the couple loved was an enormous tree, easily as old as their home, but the sewer line passed beneath it. The tree’s roots sought out the warmth the line emitted, especially during the colder months. In addition, the line was an old clay pipe and offered little resistance to the encroaching roots.

To compound the problem, at some point between the house initially being built and Adam and Jennifer purchasing it, an outbuilding had been erected at the rear of the property, directly over the sewer line. The line would have to be replaced using an auger to dig beneath the outbuilding without damaging the foundation or completely re-routed to avoid the tree and the building.

The cost would be thousands of dollars – an expense the young couple simply couldn’t afford. Fortunately, Adam had assisted a local church, and the pastor put him in contact with Sunflower Services, a HomeServe USA network contractor.

Sunflower recommended replacing the clay pipe with sturdier, more resistant PVC and rerouting it to avoid the tree and outbuilding to prevent continuing root encroachment and make the line more accessible if it should ever need repair in the future. The problem was the $7,000 price tag, representing a significant portion of their annual income.

Sunflower Services employees knew just what to do and contacted HomeServe to see if the couple could have their job covered through HomeServe Cares, the company’s charitable arm. HomeServe, a leading home warranty company providing plumbing and electrical warranties throughout the U.S. and Canada, agreed to cover the cost of the repair.

HomeServe also offers low-cost water and sewer service line warranties through Utility Service Partners’ National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program in partnership with municipalities and utilities. The program also has been endorsed by several state leagues, including the Kansas League of Cities.

As for Adam and Jennifer, everything is back to normal, thanks to Sunflower Services and HomeServe.

“It’s draining just fine now,” Adam said.

The HomeServe Cares Program Helps Salt Lake Resident with Problem Sewer Line

The HomeServe Cares Program Helps Salt Lake Resident with Problem Sewer Line

Helen T. of Salt Lake City knew she needed to do something about her sewer line – it had gotten to the point that she had to have it cleaned out annually to clear it of roots.

“My sewer line is old and clay,” she said.

However, figuring out exactly how to approach the problem and which plumber to use proved to be a daunting task.

“It’s difficult to find a contractor. There are so many repair methods to consider – lining, bursting,” Helen said. “I had six bids.”

Helen wanted to be sure that she was making the right choice so she could enjoy many more years in her beloved home – a 100-year-old structure in a quiet residential neighborhood popular with young families. The repair would be an investment of several thousand dollars, and she wanted to make the best, most cost efficient choice. It would have been a great help to have someone knowledgeable about plumbing repair assist her, she added.

“The bidding process was difficult,” she said, noting it required doing research on her own to better understand both what she needed and what was being offered.

After receiving a recommendation from a plumber with whom she had a long relationship, she chose Stott Plumbing, a network contractor with the HomeServe USA.

“They came out here, they gave me a fair estimate and they gave me space to make a decision,” Helen said.

Not only do Stott Plumbing managers Bryan and Mike Stott pride themselves on word-of-mouth  advertising and their cordial relationship with Salt Lake City officials, but also on being able to do every part of a job from start to finish. Stott, which was started by Gerald Stott, Bryan and Mike’s father, in 1970, has the personnel and equipment to do everything from opening a cut in the street to running heavy machinery to backfilling.

“When you don’t have control over that, then you run the risk of delay when a [third-party vendor] isn’t available,” said Bryan. “This just makes sense.”

Helen is retired and on a fixed income, and this repair would be a significant financial hardship. So Stott suggested she apply for the HomeServe Cares program. HomeServe agreed to cover the repair for Helen.

“I didn’t believe it at first,” Helen said. “It sounded too good to be true, but it was true.”

Stott Plumbing replaced Helen’s entire sewer service line, from her home to the city sewer main. This required digging a trench through her front yard, cutting through the street and “bursting,” or pushing the new pipe through the old, to avoid disturbing the sidewalk and porch. Stott Plumbing accomplished this all in one day so Helen will enjoy her home and neighborhood for many years to come.

“I want to thank HomeServe Cares and Stott Plumbing,” Helen said.

HomeServe is committed to serving its partners’ communities. To this end, HomeServe Cares is a program to aid disadvantaged homeowners in communities it serves who are faced with a service emergency and don’t have a service plan or the funds to cover an emergency repair. HomeServe Cares leverages the company’s existing service infrastructure and financial resources to aid homeowners in need.

The Buying Power of Millennials Continues to Impact Energy

The Buying Power of Millennials Continues to Impact Energy

By 2025, Millennials will make up to 75 percent of the work force, as the next largest generation, the Baby Boomers, retire in droves. This means their buying power will only increase in the next decade – multicultural Millennials are spending more than $65 billion each year and influencing up to $1 trillion, the generation has more spending power than Boomers and will spend up to $1.4 trillion by 2020.

Energy providers are sure to get some of those dollars, but what can they do to get a bigger piece of the pie? Millennials spend with companies where they are engaged and they are confident the company is socially responsible.

They also are the first truly “digital generation,” and they want cutting-edge tech, like that employed in smart homes, indicating that they are willing to pay more for a home with smart technology, and real-time data. Both of these demands offer a wealth of opportunities for energy providers, from offering smart thermostats to apps that offer real-time information on energy consumption and ways to save. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to smart devices and data.

In addition, energy providers can offer even more engagement with value-added services, building on smart devices and data analysis. Everything from home security systems to emergency home repairs are fields where energy providers can move laterally to increase engagement – and profits. Energy services isn’t a new field, but it is an exciting and growing one.

Providers also could combine those two demands to meet one Millennials are clamoring for: clean energy. Millennials are willing to pay more for clean energy and for a smart grid, if that means integrating clean energy such as solar and wind power. Clean energy and environmentalism isn’t a “trend” with Millennials, it’s a practice that they see crossing into all aspects of their lives, from politics to spending habits.

Energy providers who showcase their social responsibility by providing the clean energy Millennials demand will stand head-and-shoulders above their competition. Millennials already are driving investment in Energy STAR appliances and solar power. They don’t just want to utilize clean energy, they want to reduce their overall usage – yet another reason to move into smart home technology, data analysis and value-added services, especially with energy consumption flattening.

There is a clear gap between what Millennials want and what they are being offered by energy providers. Despite 86 percent of overall customers who would like to have green energy, only 45 percent have been offered it, according to a Deloitte study. It also shows that 48 percent of Millennials are interested in solar power and 32 percent are interested in wind power. The study also confirms Millennials’ interest data analysis, particularly smart meters, apps and time-of-use rates.

Forward-thinking providers will be moving into these spaces as Millennials continue to increase their buying power. Partnerships with service providers such as HomeServe can help them do that.

HomeServe, a leading provider of home repair service plans, partners with utilities across the nation to offer utility customers affordable protection from potentially expensive repairs of electrical lines, water heaters, HVAC systems and water and sewer lines. To learn more about a partnership with HomeServe, contact us.

Highlights from the 2018 ClickConnect Conference

Highlights from the 2018 ClickConnect Conference

HomeServe USA was featured in a blog post by Gregory Gibbs, Vice President of Global Customer Transformation for Service Council following Click’s 2018 “ClickConnect” conference.

“Of all the many great takeaways from this conference, which we will highlight in later communications, one of them came from Mark Crook, VP Energy Services, HomeServe USA, a home warranty service organization. When asked what his organization measures as KPIs, his answer was, ‘We don’t measure ourselves against our direct competitors–we have to measure ourselves against our customers’ best service providers.'”

To read the full blog, click here.

The Costs of Moving Forward With Grid Modernization

The Costs of Moving Forward With Grid Modernization

We know that our energy infrastructure is out-of-date and customers are looking for varied and new services. However moving from the old model of simply supplying electricity to a burgeoning one of supplying energy-adjacent services and transforming the grid into a hacker-resistant infrastructure that also accommodates renewables isn’t inexpensive.

So how will utilities – many of whom are either under PUC regulation or being undercut on prices by new retail providers – afford to keep up in this changing market? By pivoting away from high-cost generation plants and providing a modern grid.

As the grid is modernized, two things will be top of mind for utility providers: fending off hackers and flexibility. In addition to replacing and repairing decades-old gas lines and transmission wires, it will mean updating software – as the Internet of Things expands, so do entry points for hackers. Likewise, the more interconnected infrastructure becomes, the more weak points there are for cyberattacks.

Updating software in a coordinated approach is where the smart money is going. Nearly 40 energy utilities spent $60 billion on grid improvements, while spending on new power plants fell to one-third of total capital improvements spending, according to the Edison Electric Institute. Even as investment in power plants shrinks, so does the demand for power – dropping to the lowest rate in a decade – and many utilities are shuttering obsolete plants instead of replacing them.

Some companies have already begun charging modernization fees, although some PUCs have disallowed them – for now. Several utilities have requested special ratemaking for grid investments, so this isn’t going away any time soon, but utilities will have to wait and see how it plays out in each PUC where they do business.

Although the reality is that rate increases will need to be made to make the grid safer and more resilient, some utilities are reducing increases to ratepayers by having third-party companies pay to offer new services to the grid.

As utilities work to make the grid safer, customers have begun to unplug. Even as the grid becomes safer and better equipped to deal with the surge and ebb of renewables, many utilities must find a balance in net metering between the wholesale rate they want to pay and the retail rate distributed generators want. Again, where PUCs fall on this issue will have an impact on utilities’ bottom lines – and their ability to modernize energy infrastructure.

Changing our country’s energy infrastructure won’t be quick, easy or cheap – nor will it extend to thousands of homes in need of electrical upgrades from weatherheads to service panels to wiring. As smart devices proliferate and renewables become more common, how will these systems fare?

HomeServe USA offers interior electric, hot water heater, HVAC and electric service line warranties that can keep your ratepayers safe from electrical hazards in their homes, protect them from unexpected expenses and give them peace of mind. For information on this turn-key program, contact us.

HomeServe Helps Yonkers Resident Solve a Serious Problem

HomeServe Helps Yonkers Resident Solve a Serious Problem

Evangeline G. of Yonkers noticed many of her neighbors were experiencing water line breaks, especially during the winter months, and began worrying about the line servicing her home.

“[The contractors] told us to get this [warranty] because all these lines were breaking,” she said.

Evangeline, a single mother raising two sons, was on a fixed income and didn’t want to be faced with the expense of repairing a water line. She saved for two and a half months until she had $204.76 – the cost of a year-long service line warranty – and sent it off in mid-March. A few days later, her check was cashed, and Evangeline relaxed. She only had to get through the required waiting period and she would be covered.

However, several weeks went by and she still hadn’t received her warranty paperwork, so Evangeline called her home warranty company in April to find out if she would be receiving her new customer packet soon.

Then, in early May, she received a notification from the city she had a leak. Not only did the line break near the main line, but it the line was lead, meaning the entire line would have to be replaced in order to bring it to code. Relieved that she had taken steps to secure a warranty back in March, she contacted her home warranty company.

“They said, ‘we have a record that you called two and a half weeks ago,’” she said. “‘You knew about this.’ I said, ‘no, I was calling about my paperwork.’ They didn’t believe me and they said they wouldn’t cover it.”

Despairing, Evangeline began looking for a plumber – otherwise, the city would be forced to turn off the water to her home to prevent the water leaking beneath the street from causing an issue – and she was still out more than $200.

“I hoped I could find someone who would take $50, $75 a month,” she said. “I thought I would be paying this off for 20 years.”

Evangeline’s sons began researching area plumbing companies and suggested their mother contact O’Grady Plumbing, operated by Josephine O’Grady.

“When I called, I was upset, crying, ‘please, can you help me?’” she said.

In addition to being based in Yonkers, O’Grady Plumbing is a HomeServe USA network contractor, and Josephine thought Evangeline might qualify for HomeServe Cares, a program that helps disadvantaged residents without a repair plan by providing free, emergency plumbing repairs to those who qualify.

“So we got a call from Evangeline, and she had a notice from the city that they were going to turn off her water,” Josephine said. “She was pretty upset. It was expensive, and her [warranty] wouldn’t cover it. I told her we would work with her.”

Josephine assured Evangeline they would figure out a fix for her, then contacted her HomeServe Regional Operations Manager, Mary Michell.

“O’Grady Plumbing contacted us to see if we could cover the cost through the [HomeServe Cares] program,” Michell said. “Evangeline qualified, so we made arrangements to replace the lead line from the main, across the street, to the house.”

When Michell contacted Evangeline, she was shopping.

“I was at the dollar store when she called, and when she said they would do the job, I started crying in the middle of the store,” she said. “People were asking me if I was okay, but they were tears of happiness.”

HomeServe dispatched O’Grady Plumbing to replace the entire line at no cost to Evangeline.

“I’m blessed to have this,” Evangeline said. “Thank you so much.”

HomeServe is committed to serving its partners’ communities. To this end, HomeServe Cares is a program to aid disadvantaged homeowners in communities it serves who are faced with a service emergency and don’t have a service plan or the funds to cover an emergency repair. HomeServe Cares leverages the company’s existing service infrastructure and financial resources to aid homeowners in need.

To find out how a partnership with HomeServe can benefit your customers, contact us.