Fairfielders win new boiler to replace 113-year-old clunker
Christmas has come early for Meadowbrook Road residents Pepe and Anita Soto-Ortiz.
A new boiler courtesy of Westport-based Gault Energy arrived at the foot of their doorstep Thursday morning, big red bow and all. Dressed in an Argyle sweater vest with a scarf around his neck as he stood beside the boiler talking to media, man and machine looked like a scene from a holiday movie. Only this was real life.
Out of work for two years, Pepe, the former financial complaint officer for Xerox, struggled to hold back tears.
"Companies don't normally do this type of thing," said Pepe, who planted a kiss on his new and more compact boiler. Prior to Gault's gift, Pepe and his wife were making do with a Thatcher boiler no less than 113 years old. Repair parts for it were not an option. Pepe said one serviceman visited the home recently and noted he hadn't seen a boiler like that since 1975.
Pepe got the call from Gault two or three weeks ago that he had won the company's, "2010 Oldest Boiler Contest."
"He was speechless and so moved," said Megan Smith, director of marketing for Gault Energy.
Pepe said, "I couldn't believe it. I said to my wife I didn't want to believe it or not because things like this never happen to us."
As Pepe watched Gault employees prepare the boiler for removal by Westport-based Purcell Movers, he told Smith he was starting to believe.
Smith said there is an oldest boiler contest every other year. She noted a new boiler helps people like Pepe and Anita Soto-Ortiz save money as well as reduce the carbon footprint.
"We are really committed to energy conservation," said Smith, "and the more awareness we can bring to upgrading to new high-efficiency heating and cooling systems the more we are doing our part from an energy conservation standpoint."
Smith added that Pepe and Anita will save approximately 40 percent in their annual fuel consumption. "We all hope that this is the start of his life turning around," Smith said.
After this early Christmas present, Pepe said, the only other things on his wish list is to get a break of good fortune and to find a job.
He and his wife have lived in their home for 33 years and put two children through college and beyond. One attended law school with financial help from the couple. Pepe was the breadwinner in the family. Now 64 and out of work, money has been tight. The new boiler couldn't have come at a better time.
A home the size of the one they live in, even with equipment that is a mere 30 years old, likely uses an average of 1,200 gallons of home heating oil annually, according to Gault. A new boiler, like the Peerless Boiler system installed Thursday, can reduce a home's oil consumption by up to 500 gallons and thus make a positive impact on the monthly heating bill.
While Dec. 25 is still more than a week away, Pepe said this already has been one of the best Christmases. "We never had a Christmas present like that," he said.