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Energy Tip - January 15, 2014


Before installing renewables, do basic energy efficiency


Are you considering a renewable energy system to help power your home? Are you planning to add solar panels or perhaps a small wind system? Perhaps you are thinking about purchasing green power from your utility, but you want to employ your own clean energy source to increase your energy independence and reduce your carbon footprint.

Taking the step in developing your own renewable energy system is an admirable goal, and to help you achieve this goal the Minnesota Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources recommends that homeowners first apply some simple, energy-saving measures before investing in a renewable energy system. By investing in energy efficiency and energy conservation up front, you can lessen your energy demand, which will reduce the size of the investment needed for your renewable energy system and optimize the returns on your system. 

Energy improvements such as air-sealing, adding insulation, and replacing or repairing home heating and cooling systems are some of the best energy-saving investments. An advanced energy assessment of your home is a good first step and can determine your home’s energy performance. It can identify what needs fixing, what needs upgrading, and what needs replacing. It will identify some simple low-cost measures you can implement, such as weather-stripping doors, and it will point out other cost-effective measures.

Minnesota utilities provide advanced energy assessments, and many offer discounted audits and rebates for energy improvements (visit www.dsireusa.org). Energy assessments are also provided by nonprofit community groups, auditors listed by the Minnesota Building Performance Association, and private contractors.

After you implement those basic energy efficiency measures, then explore whether a renewable energy system is feasible for your home.

For more information on home energy assessments and energy-saving improvements, check out the “Home Envelope” energy guide on the Division of Energy Resources website.

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Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the division’s Energy Information Center at energy.info@state.mn.us or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.