Generate Home Savings through Energy Efficiency
Let’s face it, Chicagoans spend a lot of time indoors in the winter, and having a home that is more comfortable and affordable makes a huge difference in the quality of that time. Some of the easiest, quickest, and most affordable ways to improve your living space is through improving your home’s energy efficiency.
Being energy efficient means changing the way you use items and utility services in your home, allowing you to do more with less, and ultimately reducing the amount of energy used while improving the conditions of your living space. Improving energy efficiency in your home is easier than you might think!
Common DIY Projects
Small projects can have a big impact. Some of the easiest ways to reduce energy consumption include:
>> Replacing incandescent lights with LED bulbs
>> Changing air filters
>> Insulating a hot water heater
>> Installing low-flow faucets and showerheads
>> Sealing gaps and cracks to control air flow
According to a report from the US Department of Energy, 45% of energy consumption in an average home comes from space heating. That’s a huge number, and if your home has air leaks, you may be using more energy than is necessary. Some of the best ways to combat air loss include:
>> Using caulk and foam sealants to fill cracks and gaps on the interior and exterior of your home
>> Sealing switches and outlets – especially ones on the exterior of the house
>> Adding a door sweep to the bottom of exterior doors
Having a professional conduct an assessment can help you figure out exactly where your home stands and what it needs to be more energy efficient. Check out the resources at the end of this article for organizations that provide low- or no-cost home energy assessments for Chicago residents.
What Habitat Chicago is doing this winter
This winter Habitat Chicago has teamed up with the West Pullman-based nonprofit Sustainable Options for Urban Living to provide workshops on improving energy efficiency at home. Workshops are open to the public and offer a wide range of information, including how to control airflow in the home, ways to conserve water, and options for funding and installing residential solar power units.
Thanks to a grant from Constellation Energy, Habitat Chicago will be able to distribute 200 energy efficiency kits at these workshops. Valued at over $70, these kits provide residents with the starting materials to address some of the most common sources of energy loss at home. Kits include LED lights, smart power strips, window insulation materials, gel and foam sealants, and water conservation items.
>> December 1st 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm at Sunshine Enterprise in Greater Grand Crossing.
>> December 3rd 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm at St Peter and Paul’s Church in West Pullman.
The first 50 registrants of each workshop will receive energy efficiency kits free of charge. If you are unable to attend a workshop, visit Habitat Chicago’s Home Efficiency page for additional reading materials and top tips.
You can also check out these local resources that can help you improve the energy efficiency and affordability of your home:
Low- or No-Cost Energy Assessments
>> ComEd (Chicago-based utility company)
>> Elevate Energy (Chicago non-profit)
>> Retrofit Chicago (City of Chicago program)
>> Elevate Energy provides income-qualifying residents with free weatherization improvements on their homes.
>> CEDA, The Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, offers their weatherization program year round, providing services at no cost to qualifying residents in Cook County.
>> The Illinois Department of Commerce offers their Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program to low-income residents.
Financial Assistance for Utilities
>> The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is administered by the State of Illinois and helps low-income households pay for their energy bills in the winter.
>> CEDA’s Home Energy Assistance Programs offers financial assistance to income-qualifying residents of Cook County. Assistance goes toward heating and cooling energy costs. Emergency furnace repairs are also available through the program.
>> Elevate Energy’s Bill Savings Programs connect residents of Cook County with their utility providers and enrolls them in pricing programs that can reduce the cost of monthly utility bills.