Hackensack Home Energy Workshop

Recap: Keeping Warm Inside When It’s Cold Outside

November 16, 2022

Hackensack community members gathered in Hackensack Union Congregational Church to learn how to reduce home energy costs.

Home energy is a big concern for many families in Hackensack. A high energy burden – where families spend a high percentage of their income on energy costs – often means that families are less financially secure. 

To address the home energy burden in the area, a free public home energy workshop was hosted by the Clean Energy Resource teams (CERTs), City of Hackensack, Bi-County Community Action Partnership (BI-CAP), Minnesota Power, Hackensack Gamechangers, and local area churches. 

The home energy workshop brought in experts from CERTs, BI-CAP, and Minnesota Power to share energy efficiency information and cost saving programs.

CERTs: Getting to know home energy

Topics covered by Melissa Birch from CERTs included understanding home energy use and reducing energy usage. They also spoke about the upcoming Inflation Reduction Act energy efficiency upgrades tax credits and rebates.

Understanding home energy use starts with getting to know your utility bill. Depending on which utility you have, you may be able to go online and access more detailed information about the energy you use.

Making your home comfortable and efficient can be inexpensive. Here are some ways to save energy:

  • During the winter, lower the thermostat to 68° F during the day, lower it further at night, and also when you are away from the home. Programmable and smart thermostats can automate this.
  • Open curtains during the day to let the sun warm your home, and close them at night to keep the heat in.
  • For doors, use draft snakes, sweeps, and weatherstripping.
  • For windows, lock them to ensure they are sealed, replace trim and insulation, or add plastic weatherization film to keep drafts out.
  • If you need to replace appliances, look for Energy Star appliances that qualify for utility rebates.

Bi-CAP: getting to know Energy Assistance and Weatherization Programs

Energy Assistance Program

Bi-CAP is a Community Action Partnership (CAP) that serves Beltrami and Cass counties. Bi-CAP is one of many agencies that provide the Energy Assistance Program. Debbie Johnson from Bi-CAP went over how the Energy Assistance Program helps people by paying a portion of their home energy and heating bills directly to their utility providers. The program serves both renters and homeowners, and is available for most fuel sources. An application to the program includes the last three months of income and some basic information. Benefit amounts are based on your household's heating costs, household size, and income. Your local CAP agency can help you fill out an application. 

Weatherization Assistance Program

Jeff Farr from BI-CAP then spoke about the Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides free home energy upgrades to income-eligible homeowners and renters to help save energy and make sure your home is a healthy and safe place to live. The program reduces energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes. To apply to the weatherization program you must be in a CAP agency's Energy Assistance Program and then contact them to tell them you are interested in the program. If you qualify, a local Weatherization service provider will conduct a free home energy assessment to determine which cost-effective energy efficiency improvements can be completed in your home. 

Which organization provides services in the area where I live?

To find out who your Energy Assistance and Weatherization provider is, call 1-800-657-3710 and enter zip code or check the MN Department of Commerce website.

Utility programs: more options for savings

Angela Fulghum, from Minnesota Power (the electric utility serving Hackensack) presented on a variety of programs such as energy efficient appliance and lighting upgrade rebates, the Home Energy Analysis program, and a variety of affordability discounts they offer.

Many utilities offer similar programs and it is often worthwhile to check with your electric and gas utilities to see what kind of programs and resources are available for you. 

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