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Customer Corner

by Holly Haining -Zulieve

What’s on your Priority List?

A person in the United States is expected to move 11.4 times in his or her lifetime.  Though I consider that to be overly ambitious (unless you are military) it speaks to the fact that life is a progression of ever changing needs that dictate what we look for in a living environment as we go along.  So it’s safe to say that when we are in our sixties, we look at a house through a completely different lens then when we were in our thirties.  For instance, in our sixties instead of asking the number of bathrooms, or if they feature granite countertops, we’re apt to consider the location of the bathroom (hopefully near the bedrooms).  Instead of being blinded by the beauty of a large garden landscape, we probably stop to consider how much work or the cost it would require to maintain.  Instead of worrying about the proximity of schools and shopping, we are more concerned with the location of the closest hospital.  Instead of requiring the ambiance of a fireplace, we may pay more attention to the homes central heating system, and whether or not it’s adequate to keep us comfortably warm, effectively and efficiently over the long haul.


The Wright’s go to Washington

MCES customers Sharon and David Wright knew they needed a more manageable home.   Their old house in Otis was very large and became far too much for the couple to care for.  The search for lower maintenance was satisfied in October of 2017, when the couple found and bought a house in Washington.  The quaint 1980’s Cape Cod reproduction fit a lot of their requirements.  For one thing, it is much closer to the VA Hospital in Togus where Sharon’s husband David must pay regular visits.  The 2 hour trip from their old house in Otis was impractical at best.

Heating System Considerations

Since the Washington house had no central heat (just a pellet stove), the Wrights were unable to leave for any extended period of time.  Luckily, Sharon and David had a previous experience with MCES when they lived in Waldoboro before moving to Otis.   At that time MCES foreman Tim Harriman just happened to be their neighbor.  When they needed service, Tim introduced them to MCES.  Soon after the move to Washington, Sharon invited Tim and his wife Kris over to see the new house.  During dinner and while getting reacquainted, they casually discussed the need for a central heat source to supplement the pellet stove.  Tim suggested they call the MCES office and ask Sales Manager Gina Philippon to provide an estimate.  After Gina assessed the couple’s lifestyle, their particular needs and considered the limited space in the basement where the heating unit would be located, she suggested a Maytag warm air furnace.  The Maytag system was the best overall fit for their needs and lifestyle.

There’s a solution for nearly everything.

Besides the central heat issue, the Wrights had a few other concerns which they posed to MCES.   Sharon had noticed brown sediment in the toilet every day and feared that it would continue to stain new fixtures.  A water test determined the water was high in manganese and iron, so Gina recommended installing a Water Right® Impression + Water Conditioning System.  MCES regularly recommends Water Right® products because they are considered the best equipment in the industry.  For the Wright’s situation, MCES installed the Impression Plus Series® that provides clear, soft water.  The system features an easy to read, backlit LED screen and user friendly console that allows the homeowner to monitor all operating functions. Now the Wrights enjoy water that is conditioned, won’t stain fixtures and is great to drink.





And then – there’s the issue of bathrooms.

The Wright’s house had the all too common issue of a bathroom located on the second floor with a deep bath tub and no shower.   Creating a safe and accessible showering area for the Wrights proved difficult due to the roof line and limited space.  According to Gina “It took weeks to find the exact right fixture and shower base.  Because of the space constraints we needed every tiny bit of space available to make this work. “  Gina conducted an extensive search for an exposed shower system rather than the normal valve that’s roughed in behind a wall.   An exposed system would save room and allow for just the right amount of space needed. Ultimately, Gina found a Hansgrohe brand shower valve unit that turned out to be the perfect answer.  It not only fits the space, but is also quite handsome.  Gina also took considerable thought to come up with just the right shower base to fit the odd space.

The Report Card….

With the heating system installed and the water treatment in place, once the electrical work is completed, the upstairs bathroom will be completely finished. Technician Eric Morgner installed all of the plumbing, including the water softener and furnace.  Technician Brian Warren installed the electrical and lighting and reworked some of what was there to make it safe and more convenient.  When asked to grade her overall experience with MCES thus far, Sharon offered these comments “Things have gone well and people show up in a timely manner. Gina has been great in making these transitions happen and the technicians have been very pleasant and polite.” Though the furnace has been very recently installed, Sharon says she has had to use the furnace a few times, and is happy with the performance.



MCES Estimating & Sales Assistant Katie Eugley has completed the educational and experience requisites for the Aging in Place Specialist Certification through the National Association of Home Builders. This Nationally recognized certification program was developed to help professionals accommodate the needs of the senior population. Because we are living longer, the trend to live independently at home by postponing or even avoiding institutional living has grown exponentially. Because the bathroom is the number one obstacle to the safe living at home, the importance of planning and incorporating safety modifications during a routine bathroom update or remodel cannot be overly emphasized. The most compelling information supporting this growing concept commonly known as Aging in Place is that these home safety modifications rarely cost more than the equivalent of just four to six weeks in an assisted living facility. And, accessibility modifications, properly done, may very well add to the resale value of a residence.

Katie is the second Certified Aging in Place Professional on the MCES staff. She joins sales manager Gina Philippon who earned her certification in 2016. Katie & Gina’s advanced training elevates the level of proficiency at MCES by allowing them to look at a space and re-design it into safe, functional and stylish environments that MCES customers will be happy and comfortable in for years to come. Katie says that her favorite part of the training was the design aspect, and says that “now when I enter a customers’ home, I know exactly what to look for and how to accomplish it.” For more information & ideas relating to bathroom safety modifications, please call MCES at 1-800-890-7196.


We have a unique situation here in Maine. Not only do we boast of being the “oldest” state in the nation demographically but we also have some of the oldest housing stock and most of it is RURAL! The question being asked is how do we create a safe and accessible living environment for our seniors and those with mobility issues out of old often unsafe homes that are mostly in rural areas?
The answer is as complex as the question. Aging in place, sometimes referred to as Design for Independent Living, referrers to remodeling or renovating a home, primarily the bathroom, to become a safe and familiar environment where one can be independent and comfortable regardless of age or mobility level and not have to be moved to an assisted living facility as one ages.
According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans and most falls occur in the bathroom. Falling is not an inevitable result of aging and the risk for bathroom falls can be substantially reduced by making accessibility modifications.

A recent article published in Consumer Reports* states that the average bathroom safety and accessibility remodel project can cost less than 2 months of assisted living care. Because the bathroom is the number one obstacle to the safe living at home, the importance of planning and incorporating safety modifications during a routine bathroom update or remodel cannot be overly emphasized.

In actuality, spending $5,000 – $7,000 on bathroom modifications will SAVE money, not cost money.
The most compelling information supporting this growing concept commonly known as Aging in Place is that these home safety modifications rarely cost more than the equivalent of just four to six weeks in an assisted living facility. And, accessibility modifications, properly done, may very well add to the resale value of a residence.

The most common modifications are done in the bathroom. A bath tub is as difficult to get in and out of at 5 years
of age as it is at 75 years of age. Removing that tub and replacing it with a low threshold shower will have the greatest impact on bathroom safety. Strategically placed grab rails are a must and there is no “typical” location
for them. Each individual should be actively involved in determining where grab rails are placed based on how they use the shower, their height and strength. Resist the urge to install shower doors. A heavy duty curtain with
a weighted hem will keep water in the shower and not prevent a care giver from offering assistance if needed. Choose a stylish pedestal sink or a counter-top instead of a vanity with cabinet below. Not only will the room feel larger, it will enable you to get closer to the sink with a cane, assistive walking device or chair.
Is your aging mother, father, aunt or grand father having trouble navigating the bathroom? Are you worried about getting a phone call that your mother has fallen in the bathtub and broken a hip or worse, suffered scalding burns? Does your father complain about the humiliation of needing to ask for help to get in and out of the tub?
As you gather with friends and family this coming Holiday Season, begin the discussion about the safety and accessibility of your aging loved ones’ bathroom. Begin to think about having a plan in place should the need suddenly arise for a safety modification. Contact the Certified Age-in-Place Specialists at Mid-Coast Energy Systems today for your no-cost safety evaluation and price quote.

Your family will be glad that you did.

Visit Our Website for more ideas..

Aging – How to Make Bathroom Safer

Aging in Place is Right Now!

Most of us are reluctant to change where and how we live – as long as we are managing well at the moment.  It’s only natural to avoid thinking about inevitable physical or mental limitations. Unfortunately they seem inherent in the aging process with odds increasing exponentially after the age of fifty.  If you are Aging in Place or planning to – here you’ll find ideas, insight and perhaps inspiration on making bathroom safer!


It Pays to Retrofit:

By now, most understand that Aging in Place means the ability to remain in one’s own home forever, if at all possible.  The cost of a moderately extensive bathroom modification or retrofit falls between $9,000 – $12,000. While an assisted living facility will cost $50,000 to $60,000 per year and a nursing home bed up to $100,000.  The substantial cost savings of a retrofit become crystal clear.  Moreover, right now is the time to begin applying small changes that will surely make any home-sweet-home a safe haven for visitors and residents alike.

Think Small at First:

Mother Theresa said  “do small things with great love.”  We can certainly apply this same philosophy to Aging in Place, by making safety improvements a bit at a time focusing on small things first. The suggestions below are simple, affordable, and provide instant gratification and a sense of safety, stability and control. What are you waiting for?

For example:

(1) Install sturdy support/grab bars at every step or stair in your home.  Especially in the bathroom shower, inasmuch as people tend to grab a shower curtain or door handle when they lose balance, bringing the whole system crashing down on top of them. Grab bars can also be strategically placed in the kitchen and bedrooms.

(2) Stick a wireless LED light in dark areas in just a few minutes. Not only is there no wiring involved, but these lights have motion sensors that turn on as you approach a step or enter a bathroom.

(3) Make sure at least one entry of the house features a ramp.



Since the bathroom is the biggest obstacle to safely living at home as we age, it’s not only important to access your needs at present, but to also include the proper elements that will allow for accessibility issues that could arise for anyone in your family.  Many of the calls Mid-Coast energy Systems receives come in the midst of a medical emergency after someone has fallen, had surgery or suffered some other illness.  It’s often a shock to realize that returning to our own home or bathroom design is not be possible.  Obviously, renovating under these circumstances is very stressful and ill advised.

The best way to plan long term is to incorporate safety modifications during any routine bathroom update or remodel– long before there is a medical emergency. If you are not in a position for a major bathroom overhaul, know that even  simple updates can  make a world of difference.


Basic modifications you can do now-


  • Simple installation of carefully placed grab bars not only in bathrooms, but also in kitchens, walkways, stairways and bedrooms.


  • Laundry facilities can be relocated from the basement to first floor. Comfort Height toilets replace standard


  • Old bathtubs should be replaced with sectional shower units that include personal showers and seats.


  • Installation of entry ramps


  • Relocating light switches and outlets within easy reach


All new walk-in shower units may not accommodate a full size wheelchair however; a transfer seat allows the wheelchair bound person to slide on to the seat with minimum assistance. These new units will fit into the area of the old tub and can use the same bathtub drain plumbing, minimizing cost and installation time.


Sterling Bathroom AIP

The most compelling information to support the sensibility of an “Age in Place” safety modification is the fact that even a major bathroom modification (such as a new bathroom located on the first floor)  will rarely exceed the cost of one or two months in an assisted living facility.  Given our aging population, accessibility modifications properly done, may very well add to the resale value of a residence.

Until recent years, homeowners who developed health issues or balance problems often fell into the belief that they have lost control over their life and the only natural option is to enter a nursing home or an assisted living facility. The children of aging parents often feel the same frustration.

Today, there is a vast selection of sleek and stylish universal bathroom fixtures from which to choose.  Thanks to several years of consumer education surrounding the Age in Place concept, we now have an opportunity to make important decisions for ourselves, before there is illness or injury and someone else is forced to make them for us.

Author: Holly Haining – Zulieve is an independent marketing agent for Mid-Coast Energy Systems.

If you have questions regarding bathroom safety, please contact Gina Philippon at MCES

Email: gphilippon@midcoastenergysystems.com

Phone: 207-563-5147