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Co-op Connections Card Get connected with great savings

Stover said he always asks whether or not a business accepts the discount pro- gram. There have even been times when he’s received a discount simply for ask- ing whether the company had a Co-op Connections agreement or not. “I don’t hesitate to ask them if they’ve signed up to give discounts to the OEC Connections program,” Stover said.

By Jennifer Massey

With rising energy costs, a lesser-known dis- count program is getting rave reviews about the savings it offers to Oklahoma co-op members. A creation of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, the Connections Card is remarkable for the sav- ings it provides to more than 89 percent of co-op members in the state, said Mark Faulkenberry, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative marketing and communications manager. Eskimo Joes, Best Western and Avis are just a few of the businesses that provide a discount to Connections cardholders. The program is avail- able to all local cooperatives and its members at no cost.

“Many of the participating businesses recognize that our members have a choice of where they eat whenever they come to town,” Faulkenberry said. The card packs a lot of punch for such a small piece of plastic. Greg Stover, an Oklahoma Electric Co-op (OEC) member, is a frequent saver with his Connections Card.

“It’s in and out of my billfold quite often,” Sto- ver said. “I can’t go into any store and get to the register without having my Connections Card out and ready.”

The program originated as a way to connect local businesses in rural areas with people in the community and contin- ues to grow both regionally and nationally with more than 350 cooperatives participating in all but five states.

In Oklahoma, Faulkenberry said, new agree-

ments with businesses are frequently taking place. One of the most appealing deals in the Co-op

Connections Card program is the pharmaceuti- cal savings.

“The pharmaceutical feature is now saving

mem bers in the state of Oklahoma over a million dollars per year,” Faulkenberry said. Wal-Mart, Walgreens and many locally owned rural pharmacies are participating.

Frieda Jones, a Caddo Electric Co-op member, is the primary caregiver for her 91-year-old moth- er, and she knows all about the pharmaceutical savings the program has to offer. Jones said her mother, Lorain Willis, uses three prescriptions per month, including one that isn’t covered by her Medicare plan.

“We were paying close to $60 a month for that one prescription,” Jones said. “I checked on the Co-op Connections Card, and we got it for $14 a month.”

She said she considers the more than $500 per year she is able to save for her mother a tremen- dous savings.

Continued on Page 8

If you have a question for Willie, send it to:, ATTN: Willie.

Dear Willie,

Summer is almost upon us, and I would like to cut my energy bill and reduce the use of air conditioning. What are your suggestions?

—Matthew Dear Matthew,

Prior to the wide-scale adoption of air condition- ing, folks used open win- dows and fans to cool their homes, and this method still works.

If you want to maximize this natural form of air conditioning, consider a whole-house fan—one mounted in a ceiling that pulls hot air from liv- ing spaces into an attic, where it’s pushed outside through soffit vents. Your home’s windows re- main open, and negative air pres- sure inside draws cooler air in. This fan also cools walls, floors and ceilings, which can delay the startup of your air-conditioning system until later in the day.

Equipment costs for a whole-house fan range from

$150 to $350, and they cost roughly 1 cent to 5 cents per hour to operate (compared to an average of 8 cents to 20 cents per hour for an air conditioner). If not installed properly, however, whole-house

fans can become a problem. Professional installation is recommended. The biggest drawback involves cre- ating a back draft that draws natural gas- or oil-fired water heater, furnace, or other combustible exhaust fumes throughout a home. This generally occurs if not enough windows are left open.

Whole-house fans are not recommended for any- one with severe allergies or breathing problems, because windows must remain open for the fans to work properly. And remember: a whole-house fan isn’t meant to function as an air conditioner. Instead, it’s designed to supplement your air conditioner, making your house more comfortable and saving money on your electric bill. OL

Brightly yours, Willie

Tip of the Month

Cut costs by plugging electronics into a power strip and turning the strip off when not in use. “Smart” power strips are a good option— when one master device like a TV is off, it cuts power to other selected items (DVD players, video games, etc.) Source: U.S. Department of Energ

By replacing your five most-used light bulbs with ENERGY STAR– qualified bulbs, you could save $70 a year.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

MAY 2011 5 Ask Willie! Ask Willie!


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