Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=215241
Story Retrieval Date: 7/25/2014 1:44:03 AM CST

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Homeowners learn how to be efficient with their money and their energy

by Jonathan Greig
Feb 6, 2013


Energy Impact IL
In response to consumers and homeowners who complain that being environmentally conscious is often too expensive, Energy Impact Illinois is showing people that being energy efficient can keep a lot of money in homeowner’s pockets.

The program is aimed at demonstrating “that each of us has the power to reduce our energy consumption to make our homes, neighborhoods, our city and the world a better place—immediately.”

Regional organizers from the group, which is organized by CMAP and funded by federal stimulus money, gave a presentation at the Korean-American Community Center in Irving Park to community leaders about the benefits of the program and what they can do to spread the message.

“Our only goal is to get the word out to as many homeowners as possible and get as much stimulus money back into the community as possible and help homeowners upgrade their homes,” said Matt Elmore, a lead field organizer for the program.

The main avenue for both energy efficiency and cost saving is through air sealing and insulation. Because of the extreme weather changes Chicagoans deal with, they end up spending an inordinate amount of money on both air conditioning and heating.

By insulating homes and making sure wind can’t blow through small cracks and crevices, homeowners can keep heat inside during the winter and cold in the summer, all while lowering energy bills for both seasons.

The program offers an initial test of the air circulation in the home and makes energy-efficient recommendations on upgrades that could or should be made.

“I was amazed,” said Jack Smith, a North Park resident who had the group test his home. “If you add up all the holes and cracks in my house, they said I had a 10 by 4 foot space for air to come in,” he said. “I’ve lived in my house for over 30 years and I never knew.”

The initial test costs $99 – outside of this program, the average cost to get something like this done hovers around $400-$500 – and the program offers to cover 70 percent of the costs to upgrade and insulate the house.

On average, homeowners who have gone through the program save around $400 a year on utility bills. Once completed, they certify your home as energy efficient, and many who have gone through the program have seen their property values rise by 9 percent.

“Energy Impact is a great program, and we hope we can get the word out to our communities,” said Inchul Choi, executive director of the Korean-American Services.

They will be giving presentations around Chicago throughout the winter, even offering to host house parties to talk about the ins and outs of the upgrades before the program’s funding ends in May.