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EcoMetro Tour
Laura Burrington
Tue, 04/08/2014 - 2:35pm
The Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES) is excited to announce the sites for 1st ever EcoMetro Sustainable Living Tour happening May 31st, 2014. The EcoMetro tour will be highlighting eight very special sites that have worked hard to become beacons of sustainable living here in the Twin Cities Metro area. The tour features a diverse range of styles, from modest remodels to luxury living. The tour will satisfy the super techie in your family with innovative heat recovery systems, micro-inverters and battery back-up systems for photovoltaic systems. Tour locations: EcoDEEP Remodel – Saint Paul, MN Habitat for Humanity Net Zero House – Minneapolis, MN Passive House in the Woods – Hudson, WI The Tiny Diner – Minneapolis, MN The Idea Farm – Afton, MN Liberty Hill Farm – Shafer,...
Insulating the roof of Federated Church in Morris
Don Reicosky
Wed, 02/05/2014 - 9:34am
Have you ever seen the “icicle show” at the Federated Church in Morris, Minnesota? The icicles occurred following roof snowmelt and subsequent freezing and grew to be as long as 6 feet hanging from the edge of the roof (see picture). Some of these icicles were massive and if they broke off and hit you, it could’ve been a disaster. Well, the icicles are gone for good. The icicles were the visible symbol of a major heat loss problem that has plagued the church for the last 42 years. The structure was showing physical damage and interior water spots resulting from heat loss caused by the complex roof lines of the church, the lack of ventilation, and poorly or non-insulated thermal boundaries. The architect apparently was not familiar with West Central Minnesota winters, and engineering design and construction did not allow for simple addition...
Help put Minnesota on the map with solar
MN Dept. of Commerce
Fri, 01/31/2014 - 4:05pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce is now accepting applications for the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program. Made in Minnesota is one component of last year’s solar energy bill passed by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor that is aimed to grow the solar energy sector in Minnesota. “Minnesota businesses, nonprofits, and residents that have been interested in solar as a renewable energy source should quickly apply for the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “This program will help Minnesota meet our renewable energy and solar goals by creating an opportunity to buy local and invest in solar.” Who can apply for the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program? The solar incentive program will be available to customers of the following investor-owned utilities: Xcel Energy, Alliant Energy, Minnesota Power, and...
Remember to apply simple, energy-saving measures before investing in a renewable energy system
MN Dept. of Commerce
Fri, 01/31/2014 - 3:37pm
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 first 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...
Spanish language energy education resources
Joel Haskard
Fri, 11/22/2013 - 2:25pm
There are a lot of great educational resources out there to help people understand their clean energy options, but often language barriers can get in the way. Now, for Spanish-language learners, there is a nice collection of clean energy resources available. Thanks to a generous grant from the Carolyn Foundation, Do It Green! Minnesota is distributing a number of exciting new handouts on energy efficiency and renewable energy in Spanish! Materials Available: Lista de Energía / Energy Checklist – a step-by-step list of easy tasks to do throughout the year to save energy Alternativos de energía renovable en Minnesota / Renewable Energy Alternatives in Minnesota – two informative articles about the different types of renewable energy available in Minnesota Preguntas de Energía / Energy Trivia Questions – good for...
Recycle Your Holidays
Alexis Troschinetz
Mon, 11/18/2013 - 5:18pm
Ever wonder what to do with the tangled mess of lights that marks the start of many Minnesotans holiday season? Ring in the holidays by getting rid of old, broken, inefficient light strands and upgrading to new, efficient LED holiday lights! CERTs is partnering again with the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) for the 2013-2014 holiday season on Recycle Your Holidays™. RAM recycles every part of the light strings—the metal wires, the plastic casing, and even the lights themselves. We’re providing a map of drop-off locations that are accepting holiday lights, and it’s also possible for you to sign up as a location. Click here to see map of drop-off locations >> Become a drop-off site: From Ely to Fairmont and everywhere in between, any business or organization can participate as a collection site at NO COST. It is a great way to provide a value...
Button up your house
Mary LaLone - Xcel Energy
Tue, 10/29/2013 - 3:15pm
Have you ever wondered why “fall cleaning” isn’t as popular as “spring cleaning?” With winter comes more time indoors and more indoor entertaining. It seems the perfect time of year to be sure your home is cozy and buttoned up! Here’s a checklist to help keep this season’s winter wonderland outside…   The Furnace Move materials away from the furnace, especially flammable materials. Check your pilot light. If it isn’t burning, follow the instructions for relighting which are typically printed on access doors. You can also find information on the manufacturer’s website—that’s where you should go to learn about maintenance requirements for your equipment. If you have difficulty, call a qualified heating contractor for advice. Vacuum out any dust or debris in and around the unit, especially the blower. Replace the filter if needed...
Chickens
Fritz Ebinger
Fri, 10/25/2013 - 2:32pm
The energy savings potential of LED lighting systems and other energy efficiency opportunities in poultry barns were described in a “Field Day” on Oct. 11 in Willmar, MN that attracted poultry farmers, utility reps, and energy efficiency specialists from the Upper Midwest. The Minnesota Project and Once Innovations, partners in a test-pilot CARD project on LED lighting systems in Minnesota poultry barns, were featured. Fritz Ebinger, program manager of The Minnesota Project, shared how the cost-share CARD project has installed 1,800 LED lights across 17 barns in Minnesota to save an estimated 347,000 kWh per year. As an example, he noted how one barn in the project that replaced its incandescent lamps with LEDs used 53,455 kWh/yr of electricity with incandescent lights...
Thermostat display in the Energy House at the Minnesota State Fair Eco Experience | Photo by MPCA
Diana McKeown
Wed, 09/11/2013 - 2:05pm
As I staffed the Energy House at the Minnesota State Fair’s Eco-Experience, I got a bit more familiar with the Nest Thermostat, which is a smart thermostat developed mostly by former Apple employees. Below you will find some useful information about how a device like this can save you gobs of energy without having to constantly set/change your settings, because it learns your habits as it gets to know you.   Basics about the Nest thermostat: What’s the advantage of the Nest over a basic programmable thermostat? The ideal candidates for owing a Nest are the 70% of households who currently have a programmable thermostat, and NEVER PROGRAM IT! When you say that to folks, nearly everyone says, “Yeah, ours isn’t programmed—too many buttons and screens…” Where can you buy them? Amazon.com, Best Buy, Apple Stores, Lowe’s, Home Depot,...
National Plug-In Electric Day at the Capitol
Joel Haskard
Wed, 09/11/2013 - 12:32pm
National Plug-In Vehicle Day is on Saturday, September 28th, and folks from the Twin Cities and beyond will be heading to the Capitol to see the cars and learn more. We caught up with Jukka Kukkonen, owner of PlugInConnect, LLC—an EV market and technologies consulting company in Minnesota—for the details and thoughts for those interested in owning a car. See the interview below, and click here to get event details. Joel Haskard: What will people see if they come to the Twin Cities National Plug-In Vehicle Day on Saturday, September 28th at the State Capitol? Jukka Kukkonen: Many people are now considering purchasing or leasing a plug-in vehicle (PEV), and this event is designed to give them a rare opportunity to see all the different models and colors and option combinations in one place. Attendees will also...
Are you in the dark on bulbs, watts, and brightness?
Kristi Loobeek
Tue, 08/06/2013 - 2:18pm
Halogen, CFLs, LEDs, Watts, Lumens—what’s the difference? What’s best? We’ve got you covered! Lighting a typical Minnesota home accounts for about 10 percent of the energy needed to power one’s home. One of the best ways to reduce your electricity bill is to replace traditional incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR labeled compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or light emitting diode bulbs (LEDs).   How can I save money on my lighting bill? Halogen bulbs are one lighting option. They last about three times longer and use 10 percent less energy than a standard incandescent bulb with the same light output. But they rank well below CFLs and LEDs in efficiency and longevity.     CFLs use about one-...
Abram, Diana, and daughters with the Leaf
Joel Haskard
Mon, 07/29/2013 - 1:25pm
If you are interested in electric vehicles (both plug-in or all electric), these are exciting times. Sales of electric vehicles have more than doubled in the U.S. during the first six months of 2013 compared to the same time period in 2012. Over 41,000 plug-in electric vehicles have been sold since January, with 36 percent of all of the all-electric vehicles (like the Nissan Leaf) being sold in the last six months. Joel Haskard caught up with Minneapolis residents Abram Isaacs (husband of Metro CERT director Diana McKeown) to talk about their recent decision to lease a Nissan Leaf. Pictured to the upper right is Abram, Diana, and daughters with the Leaf. Joel Haskard: What led you to lease a Nissan Leaf? Abram Isaacs: Several factors. First was that it is electric. We have photovoltaic solar panels on our...
Alexis Troschinetz
Mon, 07/29/2013 - 11:36am
The Energy Center of Wisconsin was awarded a 2011 Conservation and Applied Research Grant from the Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources for field testing drainwater heat recovery (DHR) systems in Commercial Buildings. DHR systems include replacing a portion of vertical drain pipe with a heat exchanger module. The heat exchanger module can consist of a copper vertical pipe (drain line) to match the diameter of drain pipe being replace, surrounded by a coiling smaller diameter copper pipe (supply line). The system works when warm water (say, from a shower, washing machine, or dish wash station) flows vertically down through the drain line and cool water flows upward through the supply line and onto a water heater for additional heating. CERTs recently sat in on a webinar from the Energy Center about the nearly completed study. The main take-aways are as follows:...
Ceiling and whole house fans for conservation
Kristi Loobeek
Tue, 07/23/2013 - 11:51am
On those summer days that are particularly hot and sticky, the use of a ceiling fan in conjunction with air conditioning or natural ventilation may be your best choice to cool things down. The wind chill effect that increased air movement creates on skin means that turning on a ceiling fan will allow you to raise your home thermostat setting about 4 degrees with no reduction in comfort. From a conservation standpoint, it is important to keep in mind that fans should be turned off as you leave the room—fans cool people (through the wind chill effect), not rooms. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that ceiling fans should not be used in rooms any shorter than eight feet high. Also, blades should never come closer than 8 inches from the ceiling and 18 inches from the nearest wall. Ceiling fans are a great choice for the summer months, but will likely not reduce your heating...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 07/09/2013 - 10:18am
Many refrigerators and freezers will continue to operate for 15-20 years or even longer. But whether or not these appliances are really working efficiently is another question. It is probably time to replace your old energy-hog refrigerator when it becomes too expensive to operate. For instance, refrigerators built in the 1970s may use five times more electricity than new, high-efficiency ones and may cost $200 per year more to run than new ENERGY STAR® models. A 20-year-old refrigerator could use 1,700 kWh of electricity every year, compared with about 450 kWh for a similarly sized new ENERGY STAR model. At an electrical cost of 12 cents per kWh, that represents a savings of $150 per year and a potential payback of about 7-9 years. Also, if your old refrigerator requires costly repairs (exceeding a few hundred dollars), then it probably makes sense to replace it with an energy-...
Blowing cellulose insulation into an attic after air sealing
Kristi Loobeek
Thu, 06/27/2013 - 4:16pm
Making sure your home has adequate insulation in walls and attics, as well as being air-sealed, is a great way to reduce energy use and save money in the long run. What is air sealing? Air sealing is filling holes, cracks, and gaps in the air barrier between the interior and exterior of your home. What is an air barrier? An air barrier is anything that prevents air from flowing from indoors to outdoors, or vice versa. Should you insulate or air seal first? Ideally, air sealing should be done first. Holes in your air barrier allow air to escape no matter how much insulation you have. Air sealing works to keep air you have paid to heat or cool within your home. How to you test for air tightness? One of the most common ways to test air tightness is through a blower door (a large fan that blows air out of your house while measuring the pressure within). What are the different...
Wind turbines
Kristi Loobeek
Mon, 06/24/2013 - 3:40pm
You’ve seen those huge, white, and twirling wind turbines on the horizon before, but have you ever wondered how they actually work? Let’s break it down! What is wind energy? Wind energy is electricity created from a wind turbine. (Side note: a common mistake is to call them windmills; however, the proper name is wind turbine. Windmills do spin and resemble wind turbines, but windmills actually pump water from the ground—think Dutch windmills.) How do they actually work? When the wind blows, it turns the blades of the turbine. As these blades turn, they spin generators to create electricity. The electricity is then sent to a transformer which increases the voltage and sends it to a distribution line. Next, local transformers reduce the voltage and send it to homes or businesses. Why are they so tall? Wind turbines are tall due to the fact that wind increases at...
Kristi Loobeek
Mon, 06/24/2013 - 10:07am
Dr. David Schmidt of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences is practicing what he preaches. The professor of the popular Renewable Energy and the Environment course has conducted his own study on phantom power in the home. Phantom power (also referred to as standby power, vampire draw, or leaking electricity) is the act of electrical appliances consuming power while switched off or in standby mode. Schmidt ran an in-home experiment with a Kilo-Watt meter and tested items such as laptops and phone chargers. Schmidt began the experiment by plugging only the power cords (chargers) for 4 laptops, 2 cell phones, 2 iPads, a Nook, a Nexus, and an iPod all onto the same power strip. (See above right photo...
Kristi Loobeek
Tue, 06/11/2013 - 3:15pm
Are you interested in doing your own wind project? Let the Clean Energy Project Builder and CERTs help you get started with 4 steps!   Step 1: Do your research! Knowing information about wind (what it is, how it works, how to get it) is a key component in your project’s success. Lucky for you, we have already done the hard part! Follow the link to see a list of helpful wind studies.     Step 2: Site assessment. It is important to be familiar with both the purpose of your wind project, and site specific details before moving into the implementation and financing of a project. Here you will find some tools to help assess your site in order to understand its unique potential in conjunction with your...
Step 1: Do your research
Kristi Loobeek
Thu, 06/06/2013 - 11:27am
Are you interested in doing your own solar project? Let the Clean Energy Project Builder and CERTs help you get started with 4 steps!   Step 1: Do your research! Knowing information about solar (what it is, how it works, how to get it) is a key component in your project’s success. Lucky for you, we have already done the hard part! Follow the link to see a list of helpful solar studies.     Step 2: Site assessment. It is important to be familiar with both the purpose of your solar project, and site specific details before moving into the implementation and financing of a project. Here you will find some tools to help assess your site in order to understand its unique potential in conjunction with your...
Turkeys on the energy-efficient Zimmerman farm in Northfield
Joel Haskard
Wed, 05/29/2013 - 12:37pm
On some level, everyone is connected to agriculture. That simple fact is at the heart of KSMQ’s local series, Farm Connections, now in its fifth season. Joel Haskard and Fritz Ebinger with the Clean Energy Resource Teams joined Farm Connections host Dan Hoffman and other guests to highlight energy efficiency innovations and opportunities on Minnesota farms. The episode begins on the Northfield, MN farm of John Zimmerman and his family. The Zimmermans primarily raise turkeys, and John is the president of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. John, Dan, and Joel discuss energy-saving steps that have been taken on the Zimmerman farm and how those changes are helping to reduce the impact of energy costs on their bottom line. After that, Shannon Jerabek with McLeod Cooperative Power...
Deciduous trees planted on the south and west sides will help keep your house cool in the summer and allow sun to shine through the windows in the winter. | Graphic DOE
Kristi Loobeek
Thu, 04/25/2013 - 10:41am
Minnesota’s climate is anything but mild—from toasty hot summers to bitterly cold winters. To help save on your home’s energy and water use, follow these landscaping tips: If your house struggles to keep cool in the summer: Plant bushes or trees along the South wall. By blocking the suns rays for most of the day you will stop any excessive heating. However, keep in mind these same bushes will also block the sun in the wintery months. For a less extreme option, consider planting vines along the South wall. If your house struggles to stay warm in the winter: Creating a natural wind block may be the way to go. Planting bushes, shrubs, or trees on the North/Northwest perimeter of your house or lot will help reduce the same windchill effect that happens on exposed skin from happening to your house. Dense evergreen trees and bushes are an...

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