Energy Efficiency Measures Strengthen Local Child Care

Juetta and Gene Potter are co-owners of Country Care Daycare in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. The Potters started their child care business in 1996, primarily because they were unable to find child care for their own daughter. Now they can’t imagine doing anything else.

But providing high-quality child care is not cheap. “The hardest part of running a child care business is keeping the bills paid,” Juetta says. As the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED)’s first Energy Efficient Enterprises client, the Potters received a free energy assessment and a loan to cover the cost of replacing their dated heating system with a more efficient system. The upgrade will help reduce both their utility expenses and negative environmental impact. “MACED was able to give us a 10-year loan without requiring our house as collateral,” says Juetta. “But the real reason we went to MACED for a loan is because of the energy assessment.”

Energy Specialist Josh Bills met with the Potters and helped them find the best options for reducing costs and energy usage. The Potters received a loan to finance the purchase and installation of a wood gasification boiler unit. Wood gasification boilers are highly efficient at converting wood mass into heat. The unit combusts 97 percent of all combustible products in the wood and emits almost no smoke. Standard wood stoves with dampers often achieve only 50 percent or less combustion efficiency.

The boiler will be fueled by dead or dying wood that the Potters harvest from their own farm. The Potters plan to plant a tree for every tree they harvest.

Says Juetta, “Josh helped us look at our heating bills and figure out that the new boiler would pay for itself in seven years, based on the savings in our monthly heating bills.” They anticipate a reduction of $2,200 in utility bills to heat their business and home this year.