Celebrating 20 years

Top 20 clean energy tools and guides

February 2023

At CERTs we love tools and guides that help make information accessible and actionable for people. We also love resources that demystify technology and clean energy options and that help people respond to common questions we hear.

For the 2nd installment in our series of Top 20 lists for our CERTsiversary celebration, we’re sharing the tools and guides we point people to most often. Hopefully a few of these will look familiar to you, and hopefully there will be a couple new-to-you tools that you find useful. 😊


For starters, one of our most used tools right now, is:

  1.  The Inflation Reduction Act: What you need to know: We update this resource about the clean energy incentives within the bill, every time week, and there is a handy little prompt to ask us a question, and people take advantage of it!

    We have oodles of tools on energy efficiency!

  2.  Right Light Guide: An oldie but a goodie, this includes a guide to standard bulbs, LED tube lights, LED street lights, and even twinkle/holiday/fairy lights!
  3.  Air Source Heat Pump Guide: Heat pumps are all the rage, and this guide covers the basics, with one section focused on households, and one for contractors which includes training opportunities.
  4.  Ask Alexis: Want to go deeper on heat pumps and figure out how one might work for your home? In one of our newest tools, Alexis fields questions about how a heat pump might — or might not — fit into your home set-up. 
  5.  Home Energy Guides: This web page is chock full of resources, including guides for single family homes, manufactured homes, renters, and landlords. Guides are available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali, and Karen. In addition, there are customizable guides if your organization is interested in a more personalized approach to educating people in your networks.
  6.  Manufactured Home Videos: On the same page as Home Energy Guides, within the Manufactured Homes section, we have videos with tips for DIY savings, duct sealing instructions, direct install measures, heat tape tips, and success stories. The videos are available in both English and Spanish.

    We share tools about project assistance and financing:

  7.  Property Assessed Clean Energy: PACE offers a way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for new or existing buildings of commercial, industrial, nonprofit, and multi-family housing property owners. This resource includes a map of where PACE is available and links to stories about businesses and organizations who have used it for their projects.
  8.  Rural Energy Development Assistance program: Information about the USDA Rural Energy for America Program that provides grants and loans for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for farmers and rural small businesses.

    We develop tools and resources with partners geared toward project planning:

  9.  Minnesota Solar Guide: This guide includes a range of information and tools related to solar development.
  10.  Grow Solar Partnership Planning and Zoning Toolkit: This toolkit provides model ordinances for solar energy systems.
  11.  GreenStep Cities and Tribal Nations: Ok, this isn’t exactly a tool or guide, it’s a whole program, but the "Best Practices" and "Best Practice Actions" within the program are really useful resources.

    And then there’s solar! We have more solar tools and guides than we can even list because it’s a top 20 list, not a top 30 list. Some of our favorites include:

  12.  Simple Steps to Solar: Our essential resource for anyone thinking about solar, with tangible steps for how you can move forward.
  13.  Solar Map App: This tool is a valuable place to start as you determine whether or not your site is right for solar. We were involved in the app's initial development, though it now lives with our partners at the University of Minnesota.
  14.  Solar Siting Checklist [PDF]: There are many considerations that go into assessing your site for solar readiness. This checklist is geared toward local governments, but its key themes are applicable to a variety of installations.
  15.  Public Solar Procurement Guide: Geared toward public entities, this guide walks through the steps for procuring solar, including RFP templates and links to the State of Minnesota’s Master Contract.
  16.  Solar Directory: Just what it sounds like, a listing of solar installers near you to help you with your project.
  17.  Solar for Schools: This page describes the two Solar for Schools programs, the technical assistance CERTs provides, and a menu of services for schools to explore as they get ready to go solar.
  18.  Community Solar Gardens: Since 2013, CERTs has provided resources on community solar gardens — what they are, how they work, and answers to many of the common questions we hear about community solar.

    Of course, we shouldn’t forget electric vehicles (EVs) as we’ve helped host Ride and Drives across the state, funded seed grants for charging stations, and worked closely with our CERTs partner, the Great Plains Institute, on a number of resources to equip people with EV information:

  19.  Choosing an Electric Vehicle

    Last but not least, do you ever wonder what all of those energy acronyms or nerdy energy terms mean? This one’s for you:

  20.  Glossary of Clean Energy Terms

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