Meet a real-life Energy Advisor: Kim Burton will bowl you over

Whether he’s helping to coach the Ball State Lady Cardinals bowling team, or coaching co-op members on ways to save energy, Kim Burton is constantly helping people improve.

How’d you become an Energy Advisor?
Back in 2005, the co-op decided it wanted to have an Energy Advisor to provide information to our members, and I got the job. So I’ve been an Energy Advisor for over nine years, and thirteen months ago I became the director of member services as well.

What’d you do before?
I was actually in international sales. Believe it or not, I was selling alloyed material to offices in Europe and Asia.

What’s the last hobby you picked up?
Bowling is the big thing I do. I bowl in a league, and I’m on a state board. I’m also helping coach the Ball State girls’ team, which is pretty interesting. When you coach, you’re trying to affect change on people, and it takes a lot of repetition for them to get there. But it’s very rewarding as you develop friendships. They compete against other Indiana schools, and in big tournaments with teams coming from all over the country.

In a world without electricity, what would you miss the most?
Probably my computer.

What’s the best thing that happened to you yesterday?
Well, I didn’t slide off the road in all the bad weather yesterday, that was a pretty good thing. We had quite a bit of snow, and of course the roads got all snarly. You get on the highway and the semis and four-wheel-drive trucks think they can still do 85, and next thing you know you have people off the road.

How’d you change your energy habits at home after you took this job?
We converted all the easy stuff first, like putting in CFLs and LED bulbs. We also put in a front-loading, high-RPM washing machine, and now we use the microwave a lot more than we use the oven. I also began to work on air-sealing the attic, and I’ve been working on some air leakage problems within the house.

What’s the number-one thing members want to know?
How much their new windows saved them. It’s disheartening sometimes, because people come in with ideas about what will save them energy, and they might not be correct about where they spend their money. I try to help educate them about what will really save them energy.

What’s the number-one thing you wish they knew?
Electric heat is electric heat, no matter how it’s sold. When I go into a house, I’ll see things like Amish fireplaces or space heaters, and customers will think they’re getting more heat for the money than they actually are. But if they spent the money on something else, like sealing their ceiling, they wouldn’t need the space heater in the first place.

There are a lot of misconceptions about air sealing and insulation. I will tell people I can eliminate their cold floors and they think I want them to put in carpeting. Someone yesterday told me that hot air rises, and I said I used to think that too, and used it as an opportunity to explain the stack effect. The educational part of the job is what I find fun.

If you weren’t an Energy Advisor, what would you be?
I would probably be in the customer service or sales fields somewhere. I really do like dealing with people. Especially young people, who tend to keep you on your toes.