Energy home improvements at Oct. 1 meeting

Federal stimulus money is earmarked to encourage sustainable energy use, among other things. If you're homeowner ready to make changes this winter, some of that cash can trickle down to you.

Incentives include free thermostat and shower-head installation, interest-free loans and rebates of up to $1,750 for insulation and other efficiency improvements. The rebate program ends in May, so now's the time to investigate.

Leslie Proudfoot of Energy Impact Illinois will walk East Village Association members through the options at its Oct. 1 meeting, at 7 pm in the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott. Homeowners also call 855-9-IMPACT to learn what's available to them and set up a home energy assessment.

Energy Impact Illinois is a tax-funded project that involves the traditional utility companies to promote energy-saving renovations. It's managed by CNT Energy in Wicker Park, where longtime EVA member Marjorie Isaacson works. The Energy Impact Illinois website will grade your home's energy use, calculated from property records and your ComEd and Peoples Gas bills. Here are some fuel-savers the website suggests:

  • Set your thermostat lower in winter and higher in summer, to save 1% for each degree you lower the temperature.
  • Replace old refrigerators, water heaters, furnaces, and boilers with Energy Star-rated models. An inefficient refrigerator could cost $150 a year in higher electric bills. ComEd will haul away a working fridge and throw in a $35 credit. The Energy Star rating is available for all big appliances, including washers, bathroom fans, dehumidifiers and televisions.
  • Plug appliances into a power strip that's easy to reach, and switch off the strip when appliances are not in use. TVs, computers, microwaves, and other instant-on or remote-controlled devices draw power even when turned off.
  • Seal and insulate the attic to keep heat from escaping in winter. Consider adding more insulation after 10 or 15 years to fill gaps. R-38 is the minimum insulation value recommended in Illinois.
  • Seal windows, doors and other gaps by removing window air conditioners, weatherstripping and plugging gaps around windows, doors, baseboards and moldings.
  • Replace a furnace on its last legs. Other energy-savers may allow a smaller-size replacement.
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