Tools are fun. If you are a Centerpoint Energy customer, they offer a free tool to assess your home energy use to help you identify where you can improve efficiency and reduce costs. Find the My Energy Analyzer tool here.
Within ten minutes I had plugged in some basic information and learned that 80% of my gas bill goes toward heating, 18% to water heat. It told me how my month-to-month and year-to-year costs varied. It suggested measures I could take to reduce costs in cooling/heating, lighting and weatherizing.
I have some single-pane casement windows, and it indicated I could lower my energy bills by 7-24% with that step. (I tend to seal them with plastic wrap in the winter, which also works to a different extent.) It gave estimated costs per month for my appliances based on gas and electrical usage, and pointed out what I might save with a more energy-efficient refrigerator. My home is more than 100 years old, and I couldn’t even suggest what level of insulation I have, which requires an audit.
Granted, it’s still a relatively generic tool since every house has different air leaks and weaknesses that are best served by an in-home audit. [Read our story on a zero-energy house going up in St. Anthony Park for more on the work that goes into true insulation.]
I will be contacting the Center for Energy and the Environment for an enhanced Home Energy Squad visit. I did one of these a few years ago and received efficiency light bulbs, faucet and showerhead low-flow devices, and plastic wrap. But I’m ready for the enhanced step of making changes to my insulation and some of my windows, based on what their audit reveals. They will also offer the step of putting me in touch with contractors who work with their rebate system.
There are more than 170 programs that offer loans, grants and rebates as financial assistance for energy efficiency improvements and assistance in the State of Minnesota. Here are a few of them for Minneapolis energy efficiency improvements.
CenterPoint Energy, (612) 399-1545
offers residential high-efficiency heating system and water heater rebates to Minnesota customers. These systems can greatly enhance savings and performance in residences which install high efficiency equipment. All equipment requirements must be met in order to receive rebate. Rebate forms must be turned in by Dec 31, 2015. See program web site and application forms for other program details.
- Air Sealing and Insulation rebates 30% of cost at a maximum of $300
- Forced-air furnaces: $150-$400
- Forced-air furnaces new construction: $50 – $350
- Natural gas boiler: $300-$500
- Furnace tune-up: $25
- Tankless water heater: $250 – $350
- Indirect water heater: $200
- Energy Audit: Reduced Cost
- ENERGY STAR tank water heater: $100
- Tank water heater: $70 – $85
- New Programmable thermostat installed with Heating system: $25
- Air Sealing/Weatherization: 30% of cost up to $300
This program is available only to Minnesota residents who take both electric and natural gas service from Xcel Energy. Customers must undertake an energy assessment before any home energy improvements. The cost of the assessment varies with each home and currently averages between $200 – $400. Income qualified applicants may be able to receive a free assessment. The rebate amount will then depend on the measures chosen. The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program provides higher incentives for furnaces, boilers, A/C, and water heaters than Xcel Energy’s Heating and Cooling Rebates Program.
They have an extensive program. The full list is available here as a PDF: Xcel Energy Rebate Summary
Options include everything from big items — like central air conditioning, ground source heat pumps, furnace and boiler efficiency upgrades, insulation and water heating equipment — to CFL and LED light bulbs, saver’s switch, computer efficiency, lighting retrofits, and refrigerator/freezer recycling. They even offer foodservice equipment rebates, such as efficiency broilers, convection ovens and commercial kitchen ventilation systems.
Offers a loan program that is 1) 2.99% interest for up to $10K used on insulation, air sealing, heating, cooling, waterheating; 2) 5.99% for up to $20K spent on interior and exterior home improvements. They also list statewide programs, and Minneapolis neighborhood revitalization funds if available, on this page.
Homeowners can take advantage of energy efficient mortgages (EEM) to either finance energy efficiency improvements to existing homes, including renewable energy technologies, or to increase their home buying power with the purchase of a new energy efficient home. Including solar: Passive, Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Solar Photovoltaics, Daylighting. The FHA allows lenders to add up to 100% of energy efficiency improvements to an existing mortgage loan with certain restrictions.
Multifamily Green Initiative, Fannie Mae
The Fannie Mae Green Initiative provides valuable green financing solutions and tools to support multifamily property owners in making smart energy- and water-saving property improvements. Its green financing programs include Green Rewards, Green Preservation Plus, and the Green Building Certification Pricing Break. Eligible for: Clothes Washers, Dishwasher, Dehumidifiers, Water Heaters, Lighting, Furnaces, Boilers, Heat pumps, Air conditioners, Caulking/Weather-stripping, Duct/Air sealing, Building Insulation, Windows, Roofs, Comprehensive Measures/Whole Building, Custom/Others pending approval, Insulation, Tankless Water Heater
Note these are often limited to one enhancement period during a 10- or 15-year time span
For tribal and low-income families. Furnaces, Heat pumps, Air conditioners, Caulking/Weather-stripping, Duct/Air sealing, Building Insulation, Doors, Other EE, Insulation. Specific improvements will be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the specific needs of the home. The average expenditure limit for program year 2015 is $7,105. Weatherization as defined by the WAP includes a wide variety of energy efficiency measures that encompass the building envelope, its heating and cooling systems, its electrical system, and electricity consuming appliances.
LIHEAP provides resources to assist families with energy costs. This federally funded assistance helps in managing costs associated with:
- Home energy bills
- Energy crises
- Weatherization and energy-related minor home repairs
Offers limited rental property conservation funds to landlords and renters to make improvements, for Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy customers.