Local company donates heat just in time for snow

With colder tempuratures lately and some snow Saturday morning, people are beginning to turn on their furnaces. If this winter is anything like the last, heating bills could be expensive — but for one Tomah woman that won’t be an issue anymore.

Heat U.P. Wisconsin is in its fifth year of providing energy-efficient furnaces to people in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

People are nominated for a new furnace before being selected by furnace maker Lennox Industries. From there, Lennox recommends a home in need to its local dealers, who ultimately choose the most deserving household.

Saturday Arlene House, of Tomah, was upgraded from her 1980s, oil-burning-style furnace to a new one. And she didn’t have to pay a dime.

“I never expected it,” House said.

House says when she received the call telling her she was getting a new furnace, for free, she was shaking like a leaf.

“I’m overwhelmed with it all. I can’t believe it’s really happening,” House said.

House was nominated for the Heat U.P. Wisconsin program by longtime friend Connie Hurd.

“Arlene has just been a dear friend for a number of years, 20-some years, and I work for Don’s Plumbing and Heating, so when we came to do service on her furnace, being a fuel-oil furnace old parts weren’t available and I just thought she would be a very good candidate for the Heat U.P. Wisconsin program,” Hurd said.

Saturday, while House patiently waited for her heat to come back on, technicians from Don’s Plumbing and Heating in Tomah volunteered their time, donated materials and installed a new, energy-efficient furnace in House’s basement.

“It’s going to be less expensive for her to operate. This is natural gas versus fuel-oil so it’s going to be cleaner energy, less expensive for (House) and she doesn’t have the worries. It’s a new furnace compared to something that’s 30 years old,” Hurd said.

“The program is just about neighbors helping neighbors (in) that local community,” Lennox representative Mike Byars said. “This year there will be about 75 dealers between Wisconsin and the UP participating.”

“There’s so many people in need it’s just a great thing to be able to help out wherever you can. One person at a time makes a difference,” Hurd said.

“I really appreciate it. I’m going to feel so much more comfortable this winter with the new furnace. It will be a lot easier to relax knowing I’m getting heat and clean heat,” House said.

Don’s Plumbing and Heating has participated in the Heat U.P. Wisconsin program all five years. It is one of six local companies that donated their time and a new furnace Saturday.

Nominations are closed for this year, but if you would like to nominate someone for a new furnace for 2015, click here.