UNDER 5%

Reducing the Energy Burden for all Minnesota Families

End Energy Burden by 2025

 

“Energy Burden” is the percentage of household income spent on home energy bills. The nation’s average energy burden is roughly 3.5%, but some Minnesotans spend 20-30% of their income on energy.

With an all-in, concerted effort, Minnesota can reduce the energy burden of all of our families and households to under 5% of their household income by 2025. We're going to need all the help we can get to make this possible. Join us!

 

How does energy assistance work?

Eligibility based on income

To be eligible, a family of four can earn up to 50% of state median income, which was $47,1972 in 2017.

Energy Assistance Program

Helps pay for home heating costs and furnace repairs. 23% of Minnesota households qualified in 2017.

Weatherization Assistance Program

Provides comprehensive energy upgrades to save energy and make sure homes are healthy and safe.

Reducing energy costs up to 30%

Common weatherization measures are insulation, air sealing, and equipment repair or replacement.

We can do even more

 
  1. In 2017, 498,000 Minnesota households were eligible for energy assistance.

  2. Of those, only 133,000 households received support paying their energy bills through the program.

  3. 1,700 households received weatherization assistance to make their homes more energy efficient, comfortable, and safe. 

  4. At this rate, it would take 291 years to weatherize all eligible homes in Minnesota. That's far too long, and we can do better.

 

Let's get started

Learn more about available programs and ways you can reduce the impact of energy costs.

Get Assistance

Learn about how weatherization works for the range of homes types and what you can do.

Take Action

See what strategies and partnerships can make a big impact toward eliminating the energy burden of Minnesota households.

StrategieS & PARtnERS

Get Energy Assistance

 

Help with Energy Bills

If you are having trouble paying your energy bills, Energy Assistance may be able to help with your energy expenses.

Find your local provider

 

Weatherization Assistance

Weatherization Assistance can help reduce your energy bills and make your home more comfortable and safe.

Find your Weatherization provider

 

Work with your utility

 

Electric Utility

Your electric utility may provide energy assessments, direct installation of energy-saving devices, and/or rebates on energy-saving devices. Find your electric utility by checking your bill or contacting your city hall.

Electric Utility Contacts

 

Natural Gas Utility or Delivered Fuel Vendor

Your natural gas utility may provide energy assessments, direct installation of energy-saving devices, and/or rebates on energy-saving devices. They may also provide seasonal cost averaging programs.

Natural Gas Contacts

 

Have your utilities been shut off?

Contact your landlord to alert them that utilities need to be paid. If your landlord still does not pay the utilities, you or a group of tenants may pay the utilities and deduct the payment from your rent.

  • Notify your landlord in writing that you plan to pay the utilities if they are not paid within 48 hours. If it is winter and the heat is not on, a shorter time period is acceptable. (You may also notify the landlord orally, but a you must also send a written notice within 24 hours of the oral notice.)
  • If the utilities are not reconnected in that time, a tenant may pay the amount due for the most recent billing period. Submit a copy of the receipt to your landlord with your rent. You may deduct the amount paid from your rent payment.
  • If you live in a building with 5 or fewer units, you or another tenant may establish an account in your name, pay the monthly utility bill, and submit a copy of the receipt with your rent payment each month.

Contact your utility (to set up a payment plan and find out if they have affordability programs), your landlord if you have one (to let them know you have been disconnected), and your local Energy Assistance Program (to request assistance paying your utility bills, if you qualify).

During the winter, (Oct. 15 - Apr. 15), if you receive Energy Assistance or if your household income is under 50% of MN median income, you and the utility should establish a reduced payment plan. During the winter, if you make timely payments based on that payment plan, the utility may not disconnect you, or must reconnect you if you have been disconnected.

If it is not winter, or if your income is higher than half the state’s median income, you should still work with your utility to establish a payment plan. You must stick to the payment plan. If your situation changes and you are not able to keep up, you must contact your utility again to make a new payment plan.

Learn more

Understanding your bill

 

If you have questions about your energy bills or just want to learn more, staff at Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota have answers. You can participate in an Energy Bill Clinic to better understand your energy bills and ways to save energy.

 

Learn more about programs

Weatherization Assistance Program brochure
Weatherization Assistance Program facts
Energy Assistance Program flier
Energy Assistance during COVID-19

Starting with you and
your community

 

There are things all of us can do to weatherize our own homes and others in our community. Explore these topics below:

  1. How Weatherization Works

  2. Single Family Homes

  3. Multifamily Housing

  4. Manufactured Homes

 

How Weatherization Works

Home Weatherization is the process of tightening up your home to protect you from Minnesota's cold winters and hot summers. Weatherization can help decrease annual energy costs by up to 30 percent! How does it work?

  1. Energy Assessment: It usually begins by having a home energy professional look through your home for opportunities to make your home more energy efficient by sealing air leaks, adding insulation to exterior walls and attic, and checking if the furnace or boiler and water heater are working properly. During this energy assessment you will also learn about other actions you can take to conserve energy.
  2. Make Improvements: Depending on where you live, some basic improvements might be made during the energy assessment like installing LED light bulbs and insulating hot water pipes. After that you'll need to decide what you can do yourself and what you should hire a contractor to do.

Resources for Weatherization by Housing Type

Resources for moving
forward

 
  1. Check out the Minnesota Home Energy Guide to learn more about energy improvements and where to start.
     
  2. Find out if your utility provides energy assessments, rebates, or free LED bulbs.
     
  3. See if you qualify for the Weatherization Assistance Program. Find your provider.
     
  4. For households in Xcel and CenterPoint territory, you can sign up for a Home Energy Squad visit. For $100—or free for qualifying residents—you get both a home energy assessment and a number of energy saving devices and equipment installed.
 

Resources for moving
forward

 
  1. Dig into case studies and reports of energy efficiency retrofits to multifamily affordable housing in Minnesota to see what others have done.
     
  2. Find out if your utility provides energy assessments, rebates, or free LED bulbs.
     
  3. See if your building qualifies for the Weatherization Assistance Program. Find your provider.
     
  4. Utility Multifamily Building Efficiency Programs are available from Xcel Energy/CenterPoint Energy and Minnesota Energy Resources that include a whole building energy analysis, installation of energy-saving items, a report providing recommendations, consulting support for implementation, and rebates for making energy upgrades.
     

  5. Familiarize yourself with Minnesota Housing's multifamily program guides to learn about capital cost financing, rental assistance, and more.
     

  6. Connect with the Minnesota Multifamily Affordable Housing Energy Network (MMAHEN) of which CERTs is an active member

 

How CERTs helps

During 2019, CERTs referred 22 properties, of which seven moved forward with the Minnesota Energy Resources and Minnesota Power Multi-Family Building Direct Install Programs.

  • In the six communities served (Albert Lea, Glenville, North Branch, Jackson, Cannon Falls, Hinckley) the program reached 176 units or households.
  • Two of the seven properties were low-income housing.
  • The total gas and electric savings for the properties was 6,120 therms, 17,625 kWh, and $19,900 annually.

Resources for Moving
Forward

 
  1. Check out the Minnesota Home Energy Guide to learn more and get started.
     
  2. Find out if your utility provides energy assessments, rebates, or free LED bulbs.
     
  3. See if you qualify for the Weatherization Assistance Program. Find your provider.
     
  4. Get pointers on DIY repairs for your manufactured home home from these articles and these how-to videos.
     
  5. Get support for improving the vitality of your manufactured home park from All Parks Alliance for Change and Northcountry Cooperative Foundation.
     
  6. Learn more about energy opportunities in the 2018 report from Slipstream, "Minnesota Manufactured Homes Characterization and Performance Baseline Study."
 

How CERTs helps

CERTs is working with manufactured home parks across the state of Minnesota to improve their comfort, affordability and safety. We do this by coordinating clean energy resources from local utilities, weatherization service providers, and public and private organizations. Finally, we work in partnership with the parks’ management and residents.

Some examples of CERTs work with manufactured homes from 2019-2020:

  • CERTs coordinated events with Northcountry Cooperative Foundation member-owned co-op manufactured home parks (Five Lakes Cooperative, Sungold Heights Mobile Home Park, and Zumbro Ridge Estates). With a total of 279 units, 160 water conservation kits and 1,096 LED bulbs were delivered. Information for how to apply for energy assistance and deeper weatherization was distributed. At one park, the Community Action Program staff were the guest speakers for the annual event.
     
  • With outreach support from CERTs, Mahube-Otwa Community Action Partnership's weatherization staff were able to service 44 out of 144 units in the three parks (Kountry Manor, Riverview Terrace, and Longbridge Mobile Home Village). They upgraded 485 light bulbs to LEDs, insulated 45 domestic hot water pipes, replaced 38 furnace filters, and weather stripped two doors. The total estimated savings per year is estimated to be $6,536. Residents were also educated about behaviors like changing furnace filters and programming thermostats.

We are a community that serves 80% below median income, with most at 60% or lower. The energy savings gifts of the bulbs and the hot water saving faucet tips and shower heads were a true savings in themselves for them. However, the educational materials are of the utmost benefit, as they are habits that families can use to save energy costs for many years to come.

Manufactured home resident

Let's get this done

 

How will we reduce the energy burden of 500,000 families to below 5 percent? To get this done it’s going to take a lot of us working together.

  1. Explore and implement strategies for reducing energy burden

  2. Share strategies with your peers and local decision makers

  3. What are we missing? Suggest additional ideas

Photo: Ecolibrium3 Healthy Homes program

 

Strategies

There are a lot of easy do-it-yourself energy actions and projects to save on costs and increase comfort and safety. Sometimes doing these actions together—or at least learning how to do them with others—can make it easier. It all adds up! A few examples of how this could work include:

Weatherization Service Providers work with households to conduct whole home weatherization services (building envelope, insulation, HVAC systems) for those individuals and/or families who meet income requirements.

wap-provider-map.png

Electric and gas utilities in Minnesota provide services to their residential customers to assist with energy efficiency. Many utilities have specific programs for under-resourced households, as well. A few specific examples include:

  • Utility Rebates: Because rebates and eligibility for programs varies by utility, it’s best to reach out to your local electric and gas utility companies to understand program options.
     
  • Home Energy Squad: for Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy customers, this program provides a whole-home energy assessment and installs a number of energy saving devices during the home visit.
     
  • Free Conservation Kits: Minnesota Energy Resources and Minnesota Power customers can request kits that include low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators, and pipe insulation for saving water and natural gas.
     
  • Utility Partnerships with Weatherization Service Providers: Like this example of Minnesota Energy Resources helping Bi-County Community Action Programs serve additional homes.
     
  • Utilities Working with Local Institutions: Like this example of People's Energy Cooperative distributing LED light bulbs through an area food shelf.

A few examples of active and innovative nonprofits working to reduce energy burden in Minnesota include:

Housing and Redevelopment Authorities across Minnesota provide housing for residents, offer homeowner education, and assist with housing redevelopment. One example of an HRA doing this work is Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership.

Community solar gardens can be a tool to help any household access the benefits of solar without having to install it on their own home or building. While not all community solar gardens are accessible to energy burdened households, there are a number of models that are geared toward specifically making community solar something in which everyone can participate: 

  • A 204kW community solar garden on the roof of Shiloh Temple International Ministries in North Minneapolis (developed by Cooperative Energy Futures and installed by Impact Power Solutions) hired local community members through a jobs training program and invited congregation members, neighborhood residents, and local businesses to be the first subscribers.
     
  • Cooperative Energy Futures installed a 664kW community solar garden on the roof of the City of Edina's public works facility that was available exclusively to local residents.
     
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe worked with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) to install 200kW of solar across five sites that provide revenue to their Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to offset energy expenses for eligible families. Students from Leech Lake Tribal College earned their solar installation licenses installing the arrays.
     
  • Ecolibrium3 is installing a 40kW solar garden in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Duluth. The project was paid for in part by Minnesota Power’s Low Income Solar Pilot Program, and the utility will purchase the solar power. Proceeds will support homeless veterans and families facing utility disconnections.

Once households have tackled energy efficiency, solar can be an option to further reduce electric bills.

  • The Minnesota Department of Commerce is working with the weatherization service provider network to assess the solar PV readiness of low-income heating energy assistance program eligible households (more details to come).
     
  • Beyond solar electric, solar thermal is also an option to lessen a home’s heating demand. Learn more about 8th Fire Solar, the company now manufacturing these solar thermal systems in Minnesota.

Take a moment to learn about clean energy careers and training opportunities available across the state and find jobs in the energy efficiency and renewable energy fields.

These partners joined the Under 5% effort to go above and beyond to end energy burden.

These supporters are providing additional resources to organizations ending energy burden.

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