St. Paul energy efficiency drive kicks off with May 25 workshop


A program aimed at helping St. Paul residents in some neighborhoods cut their home energy bills is going city-wide. 

The regular cost of the inspection is $80, but attending the workshop earns the participant a reduced fee of $30. People who qualify for low-income energy assistance programs may be able to get the NEC squad visit and improvement for free. To register for Tuesday’s workshop, visit

The Neighborhood Energy Service made its debut last fall and has gone through nine St. Paul neighborhoods and helped more than 500 households save money by replacing light bulbs, installing weather stripping and low-flow shower heads, upgrading thermostats and more.

Beginning with a free home energy efficiency workshop scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Central High School, 275 Lexington Parkway, the service will now be available to any St. Paul residents who want to take part, said Diana McKeown, Metro Clean Energy Resource Team director at the Green Institute. The program is supported by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund and administered through a partnership between the Green Institute, the Center for Energy and Environment, Xcel Energy, the city of St. Paul and the MN Conservation Corps.

“Our overall goal is to serve 2,000 households in St. Paul. That’s why we’re opening up the workshops to anyone in the city, not just people in specific neighborhoods,” McKeown said. “This program is unique because it combines energy education with a home visit, where materials are installed to start saving people money right away. That’s why we want to make sure that as many residents as possible benefit from these services while they are available.”

Residents who attend the workshop are eligible for goods and services worth $400 if they schedule a home inspection by a CERT team, which costs $30. Past participants have reduced their utility bills by an average of $127 a year, said Carl Samuelson, the Green Institute’s Metro CERT organizer.

The entire process takes about 90 minutes, and can include scheduling a more in-depth energy audit to look at future options including additional wall and ceiling insulation, sealing air leaks with foam and replacing appliances, windows and doors.

Participants will also get a year of energy use reporting by Xcel Energy that compares their energy use to that of neighbors and the average for their type of home to see if they’re saving money.

Minneapolis residents can participate in a similar program offered by the Center for Energy and Environment, and most Xcel and Centerpoint customers can access Home Energy Squad.