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HOME ENERGY CONSERVATION

Home Energy Conservation focuses on providing information and education on residential energy consumption and savings. Matt Dynan was SSMN's expert on conserving energy and wished to assist those in need of guidance and direction. This page is now dedicated to him and his efforts in making Stillwater more sustainable.

 

INTRODUCTION

Let's Get Saving

We’ve made a guide that helps Stillwater residents understand:

  • the difference between renewable and non-renewable resources,

  • the importance of energy conservation, and

  • how to identify if home energy conservation is something you want to consider doing.

We will help you

  • understand what a home energy audit is,

  • if you qualify for a free audit, and

  • find alternatives if you do not qualify for a free audit.

We will show you how to receive subsidies that make it more affordable to implement energy conservation measures as well as low-interest loans that are available for bigger projects like updating appliances or installing new windows.

Together with the home energy audit professionals, we can help you understand the amount of energy savings you can expect and how much money that will save you at current utility rates. We will make sure you are aware of all the federal, state, county, city, and non-profit programs that exist to help you with the cost of any energy conservation upgrades.

Hopefully, you will understand the importance of energy conservation, as a way, to help us transition to renewable energy sources, and how this will be helpful to ourselves, future generations, and how much money it can save you at the same time.

 

7 Steps for Home Energy Conservation

It can be overwhelming to navigate all the resources available to help you conserve energy in your home so we are simplifying this process for you.

There are 7 basic steps we recommend for your home energy conservation journey towards helping the environment and also putting money in your pocketbook!

  1. Educate yourself: Why energy conservation is important for the environment and your pocketbook.

  2. Learn what an energy audit is.

  3. Do-It-Yourself: If you are a DIY type of person, determine how much you can do and if you need expert help, consultation.

  4. Professional Audit: Determine if you want a professional home energy audit. Determine what energy audit option is best for you.

  5. Efficiency Upgrades: Determine what efficiency upgrades make sense to you.

  6. Budget: Determine who you want to do the work/what your budget is

  7. Discount Services: Make sure you know what services you qualify for, for free, what rebates, discounts, and tax credits are available for your upgrades, and how you can get help with financing your upgrades with low-interest loans.

 
 

STEPS FOR HOME ENERGY CONSERVATION

STEP 1: EDUCATE YOURSELF

Non-Renewable Resources

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Energy Supply vs. Demand

  • Perhaps you heard that we want to convert to 100% Renewable energy to assure that future generations are able to have enough energy. At some point, we have to transition because we eventually will run into a situation where we can’t supply all the demand there is for non-renewables. Many scientists believe we need to transition before we run low because these non-renewables contribute to Global Warming which could have many undesirable effects.

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Climate Change

  • Many scientists are worried about raising tide levels on ocean-bearing cities, increased wildfire behavior, more flooding events, more and higher intensity hurricanes. Many believe we are already seeing changes in these areas due to Global Warming. It may seem like such a small degree in temperature change could have such drastic effects. If you are interested in hearing more about the science behind global warming check out this website:

  • NASA - Global Climate Change

  • MN Department of Natural Resource - Climate of Minnesota

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Energy Savings

  • Research has shown that there is typically 25% of the energy that can be saved by implementing energy conservation measures into homes. That means that if we all implemented energy efficiency measures in our homes that we would only have to produce roughly 75% of the energy to power our homes.

  • As we transition to renewable sources of energy, energy conservation in our homes could help us to get there quicker because we would be using 25% less energy. We would only have to produce 75% of the energy, which is very substantial.

  • It is also important to note that if you use 25% less energy then your energy bill will also go down by 25%. This accounts for an average savings of $2,200/year/per household.

STEP 2: AUDITS

What is an Energy Audit?

These next two links will take you to Twin Cities PBS’s videos that talk about home energy conservation and help you decide whether you want to have a home energy audit. For a home energy audit, you invite a professional into your home to help you see inefficiencies and identify steps you can take to save energy and reduce your costs. 

  1. MN Home Energy Efficiency

  2. Twin Cities PBS Energy Audits


You are under no obligation to follow their energy improvement recommendations.

STEP 3: DO-IT-YOURSELF AUDIT

DIY Audit:

If you are a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) type of person, determine how much you can do and if you need expert help or consultation. There is a nice website at energy.gov that can walk you through what you may be able to do on your own. Keep in mind that the experts have the equipment they use in their assessment that you will not likely have access to.

Energy.gov DIY Home Audits

STEP 4: PROFESSIONAL AUDITS

What Energy Audit Option is Best for You

For Stillwater Residents that would like to get a home energy audit, here are some recommendations.

Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington County

  • The Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington County has a great program to assist residents with energy efficiency. They ask that you apply for Energy Assistance. If you qualify for Energy Assistance you can get a free home energy audit and assistance with system tune-ups, weatherization, and inspection services.


  • If you don’t qualify for Energy Assistance, you can get a home energy audit at a reasonable price. Visit Community Action Partnership Weatherization Process Webpage to see what their home energy audit covers, as well as how to utilize their System Tune-Up, Weatherization, and Inspection Services.

  • A full  Energy Audits cost $350.00. If you have any additional questions, please give them a call at 651-482-8260 or email them at eap@caprw.org.

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Xcel Energy Audits

A second option for residents would be Xcel Energy. Xcel Energy performs home energy audits at a 75% reduced rate for Excel Energy Customers. 

$30 Home Walkthrough

A comprehensive whole-house inspection where a certified auditor will:

  • Perform a comprehensive inspection of your home’s exterior, such as windows and doors

  • Analyze insulation levels throughout the home

  • Examine the age, efficiency, and general condition of your mechanical systems

  • Perform basic analysis of your utility bills

$60 Standard Audit

Includes everything from the Home Walkthrough, plus the auditor will:

  • Perform a carbon monoxide test

  • Use the blower door diagnostic tool to determine how much air your home loses each hour through leakage. Leaked air needs to be reheated or re-cooled, increasing your energy bills.

  • Propose more tailored solutions to address air leaks, eliminate ice dams, and reduce conditioned air loss and the related energy consumption

  • If applicable, the audit will include an infrared scan of walls and ceilings to help evaluate internal structures such as drywall and insulation. This may show temperature differences to see where insulation is present, missing, or not working effectively.

Xcel Home Energy Audits

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Home Energy Squad

A third option would the Home Energy Squad. After doing a virtual visit of your home, they offer two programs to begin updating your home to be more energy-efficient.

Energy Saver Visit

This visit is intended for newer houses (built from 2000 on), mobile homes, condos, and renters.

A two-person team will come to your home and:

  • Install energy-saving materials such as: LED lightbulbs, door and attic hatch weather stripping, programmable thermostat, and high-efficiency water fixtures

  • Assess and adjust the water heater temperature

  • Determine next steps

  • Price: $70

Energy Planner Visit

This visit is recommended for homes built before 2000. A two-person team will come to your home to perform an Energy Saver visit, plus:

  • Perform a blower door test to measure your home for air leaks

  • Complete an insulation inspection of your attic and walls using an infrared camera

  • Perform a safety test on your home's heating system and water heater

  • Determine next steps

  • Price: $100

Additional items available for purchase during your visit:

  • Smart Thermostat

  • Second programmable thermostat

  • Electronics/TV peripheral timer


They are currently (as of April 2021) offering a free virtual visit to identify to discover low-cost energy-saving and potential future projects to save you even more energy.

Home Energy Squad

STEP 5: EFFICIENCY UPGRADES

Which Efficiency Upgrades Make Sense for You.

Your home energy audit will identify upgrades that they feel are worth doing, and then you can decide what upgrades you want to move forward with that fit into your budget. Keep in mind that Step 7 below will give you resources that can provide substantial savings on your selected improvements.

STEP 6: BUDGETS

What Is Your Budget?

Once you have determined what efficiency upgrades you want to do, you need to find the right people to do the job, ensure the work was done properly. The Center for Energy and the Environment (CEE) has an Energy Advisor Service to help you do this.

STEP 7: DISCOUNT SERVICES

Rebates, Discounts, and Tax Credits Available

Make sure you know what services you qualify for free, what rebates are available, as well as discounts and tax credits that are available for your upgrades, and how you can get help with financing your improvements with low-interest loans.

The Center for Energy and the Environment (CEE) is an organization that is also happy to guide you towards all the financial savings that are available to you. Check out their links below.


  • Energy Advisor Service
    Our free energy advisor service connects you to the right resources and quality contractors to resolve home energy concerns and achieve your home energy goals.


  • New Home Programs
    Our New Homes team is backed by years of experience helping builders and architects stay up-to-date with the latest developments in residential energy efficiency.


  • Multifamily Programs
    Our expertise includes program management and implementation, auditing, testing, engineering, and quality assurance. We work in both existing buildings and new construction.


  • Quality Assurance
    CEE's quality assurance experts provide insulation inspections after energy efficiency improvements have been completed at a home.


  • Energy Fit Homes
    This efficiency certification is designed for existing residential properties to recognize homes that meet energy efficiency standards.


  • Home Energy Hub
    Welcome to your home for residential energy efficiency information! Search for helpful posts about relevant energy topics written by our energy experts.

 
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DEDICATED TO MATT DYNAN

Matt Dynan was SSMN's expert on conserving energy and wished to assist those in need of guidance and direction. This page is now dedicated to him and his efforts in making Stillwater more sustainable.