A Look Inside a Walk-Through -- Faribault's Energy Action Plan


Home Energy Visit Proves Beneficial for Faribault Family

Each month, Kathy and Robert Wente open the envelope from Xcel
​​Energy and look at their energy consumption report and wonder, “how are we using so much?” ​​

They’ve installed LED bulbs, their water heater and furnace are both relatively new, and as such, pretty efficient. They believe they’re making smart decisions as it relates to energy consumption, yet the monthly report keeps them thinking, “what else can we do?” ​​

​ When they came across a publication highlighting “Home Energy Squad Enhanced Visits,” Robert inquired further, and eventually set up an appointment. These visits – a $600 value – are provided by Xcel Energy and are one of the strategies outlined in the City of Faribault’s Energy Action Plan to help residents save money. The appointments include direct installation of energy saving items, and walkthroughs that allow energy specialists to perform diagnostic testing within one’s home, determining where improvements can be made.

​​​While one specialist walks through the residence with the homeowner, pointing out energy saving opportunities, the other completes an attic and wall insulation inspection, followed by a blower door test to see how leaky or tight the home is. ​​

​ Beginning this fall, the City of Faribault is doing a special campaign to connect residents to the Home Energy Squad. The in-depth visits that normally cost $100 are available on a first-come, first-serve basis to 40 homes this fall for just $80. At that price, the Wentes knew the visit would be worth it, so they put it on their calendar. ​​

​ Claire Swanback and Brent Bateman – an energy councilor and technician with the Home Energy Squad – performed the Wente’s walkthrough, and were impressed with what they already had in place. However, with diagnostic testing equipment, such as thermal image testing, a combustion safety test and carbon monoxide check, they could dig even deeper toward the root cause of the high-energy bill. ​​

​Depending on the products in place, homeowners could receive LED bulbs, water heater insulation and temperature assessment, a programmable thermostat, weather stripping, high-efficiency showerheads and faucet aerators during the visit. Those products are all included in the discounted $80 fee. ​​

​ The Wentes had several weather strips installed, welcomed a few suggestions for more efficient thermostat programming and now know that they need additional insulation in their attic. Robert had a suspicion about the attic insulation, due to the warmth in the home once some snow settles on the roof during the winter months. However, until the specialists were able to look deeper, it remained just a suspicion. ​​

​ As they worked through their final Home Energy Report, the Wentes even received a quote in hand for the added insulation, along with a long list of resources and appointments with an energy advisor, who will touch base with homeowners periodically after the visit. ​​

​ The educational energy outreach that connected the Wentes to the Home Energy Squad program is a direct result of the City of Faribault participating in Xcel Energy’s “Partners in Energy” – a two-year offering designed to support communities in developing and implementing an energy action plan to drive community-driven goals around energy. ​​

​“Efficient use of clean and affordable energy is important to our continued success as a community,” said David Wanberg, Faribault city planner. “Home Energy Squad visits can help Faribault residents identify ways to conserve energy use in their home, which in turn can help residents reduce their energy costs and improve the livability of their home.” ​​

​Saving energy is one of many key points within the city’s Community Vision – 2040, which lays the groundwork for future planning. ​​

​ Faribault was selected by Xcel Energy to be the seventh Partners in Energy community in Minnesota and now the city is working to reduce community-wide energy expenditure by 1 percent annually from business as usual (2015 baseline). By 2040, this is estimated to save Faribault residents and businesses over $8 million a year, with accumulated savings of over $100 million. ​​

​ “A Home Energy Squad Enhanced visit is a great way to start finding ways to save energy in your home,” said Jean Hammer, Xcel Energy’s program manager for Home Energy Squad. “We’re excited to work with Faribault to provide services that help customers save energy immediately and for the long term.” ​

​ While the Wentes were one of the first households to inquire, after seeing the results, they know they won’t be the last.  To see if you’re eligible for a Home Energy Squad walk-through, visit http://www.homeenergysquad.net/.