Energy Impact Illinois will hold a seminar on Nov. 8 at the Center for Green Technology, 445 N. Sacramento Blvd., to teach city residents about energy efficiency and how they can improve efficiency in their own homes. The seminar will run from 7 to 8 p.m.
Energy Impact Illinois is "an alliance of organizations working to improve residential energy efficiency," according to Field Organizer Leslie Proudfoot, who will be leading the seminar. The program is federally-funded through the Department of Energy and works with nonprofits and local utilities—in Chicago's case, ComEd— to educate people about the energy efficiency of their homes. The program works with specially-trained and certified contractors to assess problem areas and make improvements.
"We're the link between those contractors and homeowners," Proudfoot said. "So we're the third-party advocate for homeowners."
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The Nov. 8 seminar will focus on teaching homeowners how they can get involved with the process and qualify for the Illinois Home Performance Certificate, which verifies that they have made improvements to their homes to increase energy efficiency by 15 percent or more.
The process starts with an assessment, which involves contractors inspecting a home, identifying areas where energy is being lost, and coming up with a list of options to help homeowners solve those problems. Assessments cost $99, but Energy Impact Illinois will do an assessment for free if homeowners agree to host a "house party" along with their assessment as an incentive to get people to spread the word.
"The homeowner would get the assessment with the contractor that day, invite a few friends or neighbors over, and we'll do kind of a seminar at their house and teach people about energy efficiency, teach them about the program, take people on a tour of the house where the contractors will do some demonstrations and explain how they do the analysis and everything like that," Proudfoot said. "That's one of our main outreach methods."
Proudfoot said the program offers a 70 percent rebate—up to a maximum of $1,750—for contractor work if homeowners meet the program's goal of increasing their efficiency by 15 percent. She said the average cost of such work, which mainly involves insulation and air sealing, can range from $2,000 to $4,000. However, she noted that such improvements could save homeowners money on their energy bills, in addition to other long-term benefits.
"It can actually help boost the value of their home because it's something that, if you're trying to sell your home, people would be able to see that and then see the details of what you've had done and what your affected energy and cost savings are," Proudfoot said. "So we think it's a valuable thing for people to get done, to not only have the work done, save energy, save money, make your home more comfortable, but also have a third party verification of that."