Hitting it Out of the Park: Energy Efficiency Upgrades Improve Quality of Life for Veterans

By Kristinn Leonhart

I look around and I am excited about this last event on the ENERGY STAR Change the World through Community Service Tour event and by the number of impressive attendees: the veterans who have given years of service to our country; Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton; Executive Director of U.S. Vets Phoenix John Scott; Arizona Public Service Chairman, President and CEO Don Brandt; and Congressman Bob Stump, to name a few. All of the local news crews have shown up on this gorgeous, sunny day in Phoenix.

Arizona Public Service is powering the event with a mobile solar generation unit. Upgrades to the Phoenix transitional housing facility for veterans include ENERGY STAR windows, LED light bulbs, insulation, and refrigerators in all of the 135 rooms. New commercial-grade washers and dryers are being installed in the common area for all veterans to use. A new ENERGY STAR flat-panel HDTV was installed in the recreation room. Donations were provided by APS, LG, Sears, Electrolux, FSL, and CREE.

We are thrilled to learn that the facility’s management plans to funnel the money they’re saving through these energy efficiency upgrades back into helping more veterans with the care they need, offering additional housing units, counseling and job assistance programs to get these heroes back on their feet.

But the part of this event that is truly moving is listening to the residents talk about their ENERGY STAR makeover. Gary LaLone, a veteran, is telling me about how happy he is to be able to open his new windows at night; his old windows didn’t budge. He tells me that during the day, his new double-pane windows keep the conditioned air in and they have reduced the noise from the nearby road, and at night after the sun has gone down, he can let some fresh air from outside in.

Mr. LaLone also tells me he no longer has to make a couple of trips to the grocery store a week because he now has a full-size ENERGY STAR refrigerator, and he will be able to fit a turkey in his refrigerator this Thanksgiving. And he absolutely lights up as he tells me about watching the World Series on the beautifully crisp picture on the new ENERGY STAR television set in the recreation room. He could see the stitching on the baseball as it was hit out of the park, as he gestures swinging a bat with a giant grin on his face.

To me, that is the real power of positive energy. We have helped make this hero just a little bit happier.

To learn more about this year’s ENERGY STAR Change the World through Community Service Tour, visit www.energystar.gov/changetheworldtour. Also check out the wonderful video footage of each event at on our youtube page.

Kristinn Leonhart is the ENERGY STAR Brand Manager and a big fan of saving money and energy and keeping life simple.

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