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  • A good idea is worth repeating

    Energy efficiency improvement funds available again on a short-term basis

    You probably remember reading or hearing about HomE. It was the award-winning energy ­efficiency program of the Illinois electric cooperatives that provided nearly 3,500 energy audits, along with $2.5 million in financial incentives for ­efficiency upgrades, for electric co-op ­members during 2010 and 2011.

    HomE provided incentive dollars for nearly 775 ­geothermal heat pump installations and more than 660 insulation/weatherization upgrades, plus several thousand other ­heating-cooling replacement upgrades. The energy savings from HomE was immediate – and those savings continue on and on.

    Funding for the $2.5 million-plus project came from the federal government’s ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) program, via the Illinois State Energy Plan. It was a great program that provided a nice boost for the rural Illinois economy. The government’s $2.5 million investment in HomE turned into nearly $25 million worth of energy efficiency projects all across downstate Illinois. This put a lot of folks to work in the Land of Lincoln – all kinds of workers from HVAC installers to plumbers to insulating specialists.

    HomE was a great program. It was the perfect com­bination of the federal and state government combining with the private sector to accomplish many great things, while helping a lot of rural folks.

    Here’s your second chance!

    Maybe it just wasn’t your time to work on home energy efficiency in 2010 and 2011. Perhaps you put it off and then, all of a sudden, the program was finished before you had a chance to get to participate.

    Because the first round of HomE was so successful the State Energy Office within the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has agreed to help prime the energy efficiency pump once again and we’re pleased to announce HomE Lite, beginning January 1, 2013.

    HomE Lite is a new program that is very similar to the first HomE program, but with a few new twists. For complete information, check out your cooperative’s website.

    The new program will provide a rebate check for ­qualifying cooperative members who install a new ­geothermal heating/cooling system or a high efficiency (16 SEER or higher) air source heat pump. These are the most efficient heating and cooling systems available today – and they will provide comfort, efficiency and savings for you for many years to come.

    HomE Lite will also include a rebate for ­residential insulation or weatherization measures, installation of a heat pump water heater and up to $300 for a complete home energy audit conducted by a BPI (Building Performance Institute) certified auditor.

    There’s also a commercial aspect to this HomE Lite program that wasn’t there last time. The incentives also may apply to commercial and farm entities that wouldn’t have been eligible last time under HomE.

    Incentives Include:

    Geothermal system – $1,500

    Air-source heat pump (16 SEER or higher) – $1,000

    Insulation and weatherization – 50 percent of total ­project cost, up to $1,000

    Heat pump water heater – $250

    Commercial installations – $500 per ton of capacity, up to a maximum of $10,000 for geothermal and air source heat pumps.

    “This is the perfect time to make a resolution for the New Year, and then follow through on it. Energy ­efficiency is one thing you can do for your home that doesn’t cost you – it’s actually an investment that pays you back in lower energy operating costs,” notes John Freitag, Vice President of Operations for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, which is administering the program ­statewide. “You can do something positive for the environment and save yourself significant dollars every month as long as you live in your home.”

    To get started, just call your local cooperative office and ask for the HomE Lite energy professionals there. A co-op representative can explain the program in greater detail, answer questions and provide you with energy efficiency advice. “This kind of help is absolutely free, so I encourage you to take advantage of the expertise,” says Freitag.

    Freitag warns that funds will not last long. HomE Lite is just that – a smaller version of a successful program from the recent past. He says, “It will come and go before you know it. There is a limited amount of funding in this ­program, and the dollars must be utilized by June of this year. The program will run through June, or until the dollars are all gone. So don’t procrastinate – call your co-op now and get started on your home energy upgrade projects quickly.”

    Good things sometimes come back for a second go-around. This is one of those times.

    Happy HomE (Lite) New Year to you all.

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