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State Fair exhibit to feature solar siting monitor, MiM solar incentives


Minnesota State Fair visitors can learn the solar potential of their home or business and find out ways to finance solar projects by stopping at the “Improve Your Home” energy exhibit Aug. 21-Sept. 1 at the State Fair’s Eco Experience on the north end of the fairgrounds. The energy exhibit, coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources, will provide homeowners, renters, and builders with many ideas to improve the energy-related operation of homes.

Learn the solar suitability of your home

Fairgoers will be able to enter their address and identify the solar potential of their home, thanks to the Minnesota Solar Suitability App and an accompanying monitor that will be on hand. The App, developed by a University of Minnesota Solar Dream Team, will provide Lidar-derived data that will indicate the solar potential for specific locations throughout the state. See story below for more on this App.

Resources to help develop, pay for solar energy systems

Also within the Improve Your Home exhibit, Commerce staff will answer questions about solar and other renewable energy systems and will offer resources on financing those systems. For instance, information will be available on the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program, the new 10-year, $150 million program that provides incentives to customers of electric investor-owned utilities who install solar electric or solar thermal installations. In addition, several clean energy exhibits, including the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society’s “Connect to the Sun” exhibit, will be part of the overall Eco Experience.

U of M New Home Exhibit highlighted

Also featured this year will be a “New Home Exhibit” from the University of Minnesota’s Cold Climate Housing Program that focuses on energy opportunities residents can implement in new and existing homes. The New Home Exhibit, with funding support from Commerce, will capture the design solutions for high-performance homes that U of M students created at the 2014 U.S. Department of Energy Challenge Home Student Design Competition. The students won three national awards for homes at least 40-50 percent more efficient than standard new homes.

Displays to improve efficiency, sustainability

The Improve Your Home exhibit will include museum-like displays to demonstrate many ways homeowners can improve the efficiency and sustainability of their homes. From basic energy assessments and energy conservation measures to exploring clean energy options, the exhibit will provide engaging displays for kids and adults alike. The exhibit is a partnership of state agencies, utilities, retailers, neighborhood energy groups, nonprofits, trade organizations, finance agencies, and more.

A sample of displays:

  • Energy Info.  Where does our energy come from? This display will demonstrate the many sources and uses of energy for Minnesota buildings through several interactive components, compelling graphics, and discussions with energy specialists from the Division of Energy Resources. Wind and solar resources, new smart thermostats, a book on Minnesota Energy Data, home energy guides, solar incentive programs, and more will be featured.

  • Home Assessments . Several interactive displays (including infrared camera, home air leakage models, and ice dam solutions) will encourage homeowners to learn more about their home’s operation through a home assessment or energy audit. Representatives from the Minnesota Building Performance Association will be present to answer questions about home performance and assessment options.

  • Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation. Examples of high efficiency equipment that homeowners should consider when replacing outdated furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters, and more will be available. CenterPoint Energy staff will answer questions.

  • Efficient Lighting. This interactive display features 32 different LED and CFL bulbs that fairgoers can sample to compare brightness, color temperature, efficiency, and more. Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Team staff will be on hand.

  • New Laundry Options. Examples of efficient laundry appliances, including new top-loading high efficiency washers, will be shown. Fairgoers can sign up for a drawing for a $500 certificate from Warners’ Stellian Appliances and learn more about efficient laundry options.

  • Energy Fit Homes. Representatives from the Neighborhood Energy Connection and the Center for Energy and Environment will be on hand to describe Energy Fit Homes, a new program to help homeowners make smart energy improvement choices and earn an “Energy Fit Homes Certificate.”

The State Fair’s Eco Experience is the largest environmental event of its kind in the country with more than 25,000 square feet of interactive experiences. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency manages the Eco Experience. The Minnesota State Fair App serves as a complete guide to the Minnesota State Fair.