Energy efficiency squad coming to Red WingIf you’ve ever opened your energy bill and been shocked by an amount higher than you’d like, it’s safe to say you’re not alone.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
If you’ve ever opened your energy bill and been shocked by an amount higher than you’d like, it’s safe to say you’re not alone.
Now, in an effort to bring down those large bills — and help the environment along the way — Xcel Energy is expanding a program designed to bring quick and simple energy savers to Red Wing.
“We’re excited to … help area residents save energy and money,” program manager Jean Hammer said.
The Home Energy Squad sends two technicians to evaluate residences and install easy, but effective fixes like CFL light bulbs and energy efficient shower heads.
Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy teamed up with the nonprofit Neighborhood Energy Connection to create the squad in January 2010. Though services were always meant to cover both utilities’ customers around the state, services were mainly targeted to the metro area.
But since August the program has been specifically targeting other communities, including Red Wing.
“This year we made a concerted effort to reach out to out-state cities,” Hammer said.
In its first month here, Hammer said demand has been fairly steady. So far, technicians have been in 126 Red Wing homes.
How it works
Xcel Energy and Centerpoint Energy customers first request a visit from the squad, either at www.homeenergysquad.net or by calling 866-222-4595.
The homeowner must be home for the visit, which can last anywhere from one to two hours, Hammer said. During the visit, two technicians will walk through the house with the homeowner and discuss simple fixes that can lower energy usage.
Homeowners get the choice of purchasing one of two packages, which cost $50 or $80. Both packages include items such as an energy efficient shower head, faucet aerators, a refrigerator thermostat, CFL light bulbs, a programmable thermostat or weather stripping of doors.
The package price covers the cost of the materials used in the home, Hammer said, and the technicians’ labor is free.
“A lot of time, the purchase price (for materials) is less than they’d find in retail site,” she said.
Hammer said the homeowner gets the final say in anything the technicians install and work with homeowners to find solutions that work for them.
“It’s very cooperative,” she said.
Keep in mind, though, that this isn’t meant to be an energy audit, Hammer said. Technicians won’t inspect insulation or windows, for example.
“They’re quick fixes,” Hammer said. “It’s an ideal program for customers who’ve had a home energy audit” and want to go a step further.
However, the technicians will be able to discuss some bigger issues and advise the homeowner on larger solutions.
“They are able to look around and answer the customer’s questions about home energy and efficiency,” Hammer said. “They’re very knowledgeable.”
As far as energy savings, Hammer said she doesn’t have exact numbers on how much a homeowner can expect to save following the squad’s visit. However, she did say that simply installing a programmable thermostat can save up to $180 a year.
“(The savings) usually pay for the cost of the visit,” Hammer said.
What: The Home Energy Squad
More information: www.homeenergysquad.net or 866-222-4595