A visit from the Home Energy Squad can help homeowners and renters reduce their electric bills. And a visit is now less expensive thanks to a contribution from the Faribault Environmental Commission.

Home Energy Squad visits include an audit of homes’ energy efficiency, free LED light bulbs and other easy changes residents can make to reduce their energy use, as well as recommendations for bigger investments homeowners may want to make.

The visits are provided free of charge to low-income homeowners and renters who make less than 60% of the area median income, based on household size (under $46,000 for a two-person household). There is a fee for most other residents.

Last week, the Faribault City Council approved the Environmental Commission’s plan to set aside $650 this year to help residents pay for the energy consumption audits provided by a nonprofit organization.

The city will now chip in $25 toward the cost of a visit. The city assistance will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis until the funds are exhausted.

Home Energy Squad

Stacy Boots Camp, front left, promotes Home Energy Squad visits and gives out LED light bulbs at a booth during Heritage Days last week. (Kristine Goodrich/southernminn.com)

Home Energy Squad

Faribault is now among several cities across the state that help fund visits. The program also is sponsored by Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy.

With the city contribution, a visit for renters and for owners of smaller and newer homes will cost $45 and a more comprehensive visit for owners of older and larger houses will cost $75. Homeowners as well as renters who live in a building with four or fewer units can participate.

Staff from the Center for Energy and Environment provide customized independent audits, recommendations and quotes for improvements, said Stacy Boots Camp, Center for Energy and Environment outreach coordinator.

“Each home is different and has different (energy saving) opportunities,” Boots Camp said.

The visits start with an inspection of a home’s heating and cooling systems, water heater and insulation.

The auditor may provide and install energy-saving items such as LED light bulbs, low-flow water faucet aerators and showerheads and weather stripping. Most items are provided free of charge, Boots Camp said. There may be a fee for a programmable 'smart' thermostat.

The visiting energy expert may also adjust the water heater temperature and suggest cost-free behavior changes residents can make to reduce energy consumption, such as closing curtains on hot and sunny days.

The annual cost savings found in each audit varies depending on the residence, but Boots Camp said the average is $70 to $90.

The auditor will also make recommendations for larger home improvement projects, such as adding insulation or upgrading the furnace. An independent cost quote also will be provided, along with a list of partnering contractors who will honor that quote.

If homeowners do decide to invest in an improvement, Boots Camp said advisors also are available to help homeowners find financing and check for any available rebates.

Reach Associate Editor Kristine Goodrich at 507-333-3134. ©Copyright 2022 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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