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October 2013 Home Efficiency News

Welcome to Home Efficiency News, where you will find the latest news and information on a wide range of energy efficiency topics. 

The articles for this month's edition are as follows:

News & Notes

CERTs accepting Seed Grant applications for clean energy projects

The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) is seeking proposals for Seed Grants to support community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Funding will provide technical assistance services for projects in seven Minnesota CERTs regions: Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest, and West Central. The primary objectives of the Seed Grant projects are to (1) encourage the implementation of community-based clean energy projects in Minnesota and (2) provide a forum for community education about energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and their economic, ecological, and community benefits. Project proposals are due by Oct. 18. View more information and the full RFP.

Minneapolis ranks 8th in ACEEE City Energy Efficiency Scorecard

Minneapolis ranked 8th in the first City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, a rating of policies and programs to save energy for the nation’s largest 34 cities compiled by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Boston ranked No. 1 followed by Portland, Ore.; New York City; San Francisco, and Seattle. Read more.

Energy Savings Goal Study stakeholder process begins Oct. 17

The Energy Savings Goal Study stakeholder process will begin with a public meeting on Oct. 17 at the Wilder Foundation in Saint Paul to address a series of issues related to Minnesota’s energy savings goal. Legislation passed in 2013 calls for the State to achieve annual energy savings of “at least” 1.5 percent of annual retail energy sales of electricity and natural gas, based on the Legislature’s finding that “energy savings are a resource, and that cost-effective energy savings are preferred over all other energy resources” (House File 729, 4th Engrossment, Article 12, Section 8). The stakeholder process includes six meetings and will culminate with a report to the Legislature on Jan. 15, 2014.

Energy Center of Wisconsin, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the wise use of energy resources, has contracted with Commerce to facilitate the meetings and report on the results of the stakeholder process. The first meeting will include presentations by industry experts and a panel discussion with representatives from different stakeholder groups. Technical workgroups will meet after the first meeting; the second public stakeholder meeting is scheduled for Nov. 4. A schedule of stakeholder meetings and technical workgroups is available.

Case studies of Minnesota cities, counties, schools document energy savings

The energy savings realized from energy efficiency improvements made to several public buildings in Minnesota are described in a series of case studies produced by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources (DER). From heating and cooling upgrades to major lighting retrofits, the case studies document the outcomes of energy upgrades made 2-3 years ago. The stories include information about tracking energy consumption via the Minnesota B3 Benchmarking tool, as well as resources for cities, counties and schools considering energy improvements. The public buildings featured in the case studies benefited from Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The case studies can be viewed at the “Cities, Counties, and Schools” success story section of the DER website.

Consumer Tips & Alerts

Low-income citizens can prevent heating shutoff, apply for heating assistance

Low-income Minnesotans who may have trouble paying their heating bills this heating season can act now to (1) ensure that their heat stays on and (2) apply for help to pay their heating bills. Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule takes effect on Oct. 15 and protects residential utility customers from having their heat shut off through April 15, 2014. But to prevent heating disconnection and gain protection under the rule, customers must contact their utility to set up a monthly payment plan. To help pay for home heating costs, Minnesotans can apply for the Energy Assistance Program. Read more.

Alert: Radiant barrier sales pitches reported once again in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has received reports once again of salespeople pitching radiant barrier products throughout Minnesota. Commerce wants consumers to know that radiant barriers are not an effective means to reduce heating or cooling loads in Minnesota homes. Marketers claim that radiant barriers, a reflective film installed over the top of attic insulation, will provide significant energy savings. However, their potential benefit in Minnesota is negligible. Read more.

Events & Education

Workshop on Guaranteed Energy Savings Program is Nov. 6 in Mankato

A free how-to workshop for upgrading local government facilities with deep energy retrofits will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 6 at the Centennial Student Union Ballroom at Minnesota State University Mankato. The event is for representatives of Minnesota state agencies; colleges, universities and community colleges; local units of government (cities, counties, special districts); and K-12 school districts. Information on the Minnesota Guaranteed Energy Savings Program and best practices in energy savings performance contracting will be covered. The workshop is sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Minnesota Chapter of the Energy Services Coalition. The workshop agenda and registration information are available.

Estimated 250,000 visit Home Energy exhibit at 2013 State Fair

An estimated 250,000 people visited the Eco Experience at this year’s Minnesota State Fair, and it’s fair to say that most of those fairgoers enhanced their energy knowledge by touring the Home Energy exhibit, the centerpiece of the Eco Experience coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. This year’s Home Energy exhibit was a huge success, thanks to 11 new educational displays that showcased energy efficiency and renewable energy. Read more.