St. Paul residents get another shot at energy efficiency


About 100 people attended the Neighborhood Energy Service workshop May 25 at Central High School. Participants who attended the workshop could then purchase a home visit for $30 where experts come and weather strip doors, change light bulbs, and replace thermostats.  Those who bought the home visit also received personalized home energy reports comparing their energy use to that of their neighbors. A joint effort by Metro CERT at the Green Institute and the Neighborhood Energy Connection encourages St. Paul residents to learn about their energy use and find ways to help the environment and save money. 

Carl Samuelson, Metro CERT organizer for the Green Institute, said that the workshop has been done in 9 neighborhoods.  “Participants have been saving $127 average,” he said.  Changing light bulbs are the biggest way to save energy, he said.  Also, a programmable thermostat saves energy by turning he heat down automatically when a resident is not at home or at night.  “It will save money while you sleep,” he said.  Another way to save energy is to shut off air conditioning at night, and put in fans to cool the house. 

Samuelson said that around a 100 people signed up for the workshop at Central High School.  He attributed the high turnout to outreach efforts from neighborhood block clubs and with support from district councils.  

Metro CERTS is a collaborative partnership between the University of Minnesota, various nonprofits, and the Office of Energy Security, according to Samuelson. The program serves all of Minnesota, but in the Twin Cities, it is run by the Green Institute. 

The Neighborhood Energy Connection (NEC) is a Saint Paul-based nonprofit organization that provides energy conservation information, services and programs to residents, businesses, and communities across Minnesota.  

The program is subsidized by a grant from the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resource Trust Fund, which is from lottery money.  Other partners include Center for Energy and Environment, Xcel Energy, City of St. Paul, and Minnesota Conservation Corps.

According to a Green Institute Press release, the Neighborhood Energy Service held pilots in the fall of 2009, and started full-force in January of 2010. Their goal is to serve 2,000 households in St. Paul.  Nearly all of the participants in the workshops also choose a home visit, according to the release. 

The next workshop will be held on June 17 at Arlington Lutheran Church in the Payne/Phalen Neighborhood.   For a full list of upcoming workshops, check the Neighborhood Energy Service schedule

Minneapolis residents can get energy use checked out by the Center for Energy and Environment, or they can contact Xcel and Centerpoint about receiving an assessment from the Home Energy Squad.