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As the winners of our “Power Your Life” contest, Susan and Bill Decherd of Barrington, Illinois, won a Generac standby generator for their home! To bring their 65-year-old house into the 21st Century and make it more energy efficient, we also added smart lighting and a programmable thermostat.

Standby Generator

The Decherds’ house relies on a well pump for water and a grinder pump to move waste water from the house to the septic tank. When the power goes out, they are without water and can’t use the plumbing until electricity has been restored.

Generac Guardian standby generator in yard next to house.
Generac Guardian standby generator.

To supply power to their house during an outage, a 22kW Generac Guardian standby generator was installed on the back of their house. For safety reasons, standby generators are installed 18” from the side of the house and at least 5’ away from windows.

Standby generators are powered by either natural gas or propane. When the power goes out, the generator cuts on automatically to keep the appliances, lights, pumps, and other electrical devices working. The generator then turns off automatically when power is restored.

Watch Installing a Whole House Standby Generator to find out more.

Wireless Thermostat

Changing setting on Carrier Côr thermostat.
Carrier Côr thermostat.

To make the Decherds’ home more energy efficient, we replaced their old manual thermostat with a Carrier Côr thermostat, which saves an average of 20% on heating and cooling costs.

The smart setback feature on the Côr thermostat allows it to intelligently adapt to changes for greater energy efficiency.

In addition it can be connected to a wireless router so you can monitor and control your heating and cooling remotely by smartphone, tablet, or computer when you’re away from home.

Watch Installing a Programmable Thermostat to find out more.

Smart Bulbs and Plugs

To make it easy for the Decherds to control their lights and other small appliances, we installed a Z-Wave wireless hub, wireless LED light bulbs, and smart electrical outlets from NuTone.

Smart outlets allow lights and other electrical devices to be controlled remotely from a smartphone or tablet.

Watch Wireless Z-Wave Home Automation to find out more.

On porch controlling porch light from smartphone.
Allen Lyle and Bill Decherd testing NuTone LED Smart Bulb.

Other Improvements

We also removed the old pull chain operated paddle ceiling fan, and replaced it with a new fan that was equipped with a remote control to make it easy to turn on or off. To improve efficiency, we installed a downrod to lower the fan several feet from the high ceiling.

Watch How to Install a Paddle Ceiling Fan to find out more.

To improve the Decherds’ over-the-air TV reception, we installed a new antenna in the attic (Channel Master CM3020 antenna with Channel Master TITAN 2 CM-7777 Antenna Preamplifier) and oriented it in the direction of the TV stations.

Other Tips from This Episode

Breadbox Charging Station

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Breadbox Charging Station

To turn a breadbox into a charging station, drill two 1½” diameter holes in the back of the breadbox—one at the bottom for the power plug and one at the top to let heat out. Use hook-and-loop fasteners to hold the power strip in place. (Watch Video)

Transit myCharge Portable Recharger charging phone.

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Transit myCharge Portable Recharger

The Transit myCharge portable battery is perfect for charging phones or other devices when you’re away from an electrical outlet. The 2600mA lithium-ion battery provides up to 11 hours of phone talk time and is available at The Home Depot. (Watch Video)

Wiring ceiling fan light switch

Ask Danny Lipford:
Replacing Ceiling Fan Light Switch

To replace a defective pull chain light switch on a paddle fan, turn the power off to the fan, take the cover plate off the bottom of the fan, detach the wires, remove the switch, attach the wires to the new switch, and reinstall the cover plate. (Watch Video)

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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