Energy Retrofit Clinics Help Mobile Homeowners

By |2014-04-04T14:52:08-04:00May 1st, 2012|EO Case Studies|

When we first started interviewing candidates for our 2010 Home Energy Makeover contest, we saw a clear need to provide some help and hope to our many members who live in mobile (or manufactured) homes. Air quality and comfort issues were often shared by these applicants, and their accounts clearly showed disproportionately high energy use.

One of our many goals is to help our members understand how they use energy so they can make better decisions on managing it through behavioral and structural changes. As energy prices continue to escalate, members are looking for creative new ways to control use. Mobile homes, as an often forgotten housing stock, present a unique set of challenges for energy efficiency.

To help provide qualified resources for members across our service territory, Midwest Energy recently hosted two energy retrofit clinics to equip home performance and general contractors with knowledge about the challenges and unique details in implementing energy efficiency improvements for mobile homes. Nearly 40 contractors representing 26 companies participated. Bob Pfeiffer, a senior trainer with the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC), provided in-class instruction and field-based demonstrations on unique components and characteristics of manufactured housing, including air duct system testing and sealing, floor cavity/wall/attic insulation and air sealing, health and safety, and building science best practices.

Pfeiffer has honed his craft through roles with the Department of Energy, low income weatherization assistance, and Wisconsin’s Focus on Mobile Home Energy Programs since 1982. He is nationally recognized for his expertise and travels the country speaking and providing instructional demonstrations. He trained our participants to Building Performance Institute standards and best practices for mobile homes, and showed contractors these standards can be upheld and made available to our members in a practical and affordable application.

Not only do we want to provide members with an expertly-trained group of contractors, but also information on ways they can finance improvements. Todd Parker, contract services manager for Michigan Saves, oversees a network of authorized contractors that promote the Michigan Saves Home Energy Loan Program. Todd instructed our participants on how to become authorized contractors and help our members apply for low-interest energy efficiency upgrade loans.

The late March training was very successful and well received. We will provide follow up training in partnership with WECC in July, gearing our efforts directly to members who live in mobile homes.

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Midwest Donates Kill-A-Watt Meters

By |2016-11-17T16:47:41-05:00May 1st, 2012|EO Case Studies|

Midwest Energy Cooperative recently donated Kill-A-Watt meters to libraries throughout its service territory to help promote greater understanding of energy use and management.

The Kill-A-Watt meter is a popular tool that the co-op makes available as a free loan to members. The easy-to-use tool records various power measurements of a selected appliance or electrical device, accumulating data that allows the user to project the cost of running that item for various periods of time and better understand how the use of certain appliances impacts overall energy use.

“By training library personnel and making these devices available through this community partnership, we are hoping that even more people will take an active interest in how they use energy and initiate steps to better manage their use,” said Patty Nowlin, director of communications and community relations.

These donated meters are available throughout the Cass District Library system (Edwardsburg, Howard, Mason/Union and the main branch), the Lenawee County Public Library system (Addison, Britton, Clayton, Deerfield and Onsted), as well as the Adrian Public Library, Tecumseh Public Library, Stair Library in Morenci and Schultz-Holmes Memorial Library in Blissfield.

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Business Makes Changes To Save Energy and Money

By |2014-04-02T14:55:24-04:00April 1st, 2012|EO Case Studies|

In February, Midwest Energy Cooperative worked with its Cassopolis neighbor, Postle Extrusion, to complete the first Energy Optimization (EO) commercial and industrial project for 2012. And what a start it was!

Postle Extrusion, a manufacturer of aluminum construction components for the recreational vehicle and manufactured home industries, worked with Kalamazoo-based Midwest Energy Group to re-light their entire facility. The company spent about $71,000 replacing or retrofitting 396 fixtures throughout the manufacturing and office space. Working through the EO program, they will receive a $15,000 (maximum allowed/year) EO rebate resulting in an astounding 11.7 month payback.

Postle runs three work shifts, seven days a week, and cranks out over 600 tons of aluminum monthly.

The changes will save them more than 435,768 kWh annually. Not only will they realize a great return on their investment, but the employees are enjoying, on average, a 35 percent increase in light at their working surface. The general manager is hopeful for greater production and better quality assurance and control from the improved lighting, and is confident his employees are now working in a safer environment. They have four more facilities outside of our service territories and proposals are in the works to install similar energy efficiency upgrades.

For more information about the Commercial and Industrial Program, or any of our other EO offerings, please call 877-296-4319 or visit

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Rebates: Down on the Farm

By |2014-04-04T14:22:13-04:00March 1st, 2012|EO Case Studies|

To get the biggest bang for their electricity dollar, more and more farmers are turning to energy efficiency to boost their bottom line and productivity. Starting this year, area farmers can take advantage of new Energy Optimization (EO) incentives designed specifically to make their farming operations more energy efficient.

Electricity on the farm powers heating (water, space, heat lamps), pumping (irrigation, water wells, manure lagoons), refrigeration, ventilation, lighting, fans (drying grains, aeration), feed and material-handling augers, and manure, milk harvesting/refrigeration and egg conveyors. In the area of motors and lighting alone, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) estimates farmers could save $88 million annually by implementing cutting-edge efficiency measures using available technology.

EnSave, a Vermont-based farm energy audit group, has created a pyramid revealing steps agricultural operations can take to cut down on energy use, arranged by the cost and benefits of improvements.

First, farmers should analyze their energy use. This may reveal opportunities to save on electric use and in some cases could lead to increased productivity. Next, farmers should try energy conservation—changing behaviors and simply using less energy daily. After this, the greatest savings may be achieved through energy efficiency–working smarter and saving money by using more efficient equipment.

Each farm—from dairy and poultry to general agriculture—presents different opportunities for efficiency upgrades, varying by region and crop. However, regular equipment maintenance provides universal benefits. For example:

  • Clean equipment: Removing dust, soot and debris from equipment will allow it to do more work with less effort, extending its life and reducing energy use.
  • Inspect regularly: Equipment should be checked regularly. Replace parts that are showing excessive wear before they break and cause irreparable damage.
  • Plug leaks: Be it a pinprick hole in a hose or a drafty barn, leaks waste money, fuel and electricity. By plugging the leaks, savings can be considerable.
  • Remove clutter: Hoses should be regularly flushed to clear them of debris. Ensure fan and motor intakes and exhausts remain clutter-free for maximum circulation and efficiency.

Lighting presents another efficiency touch-point. Light work areas, not entire buildings, and use daylight when possible. Installing dimmable ballasts can also help control light levels.

The type of lights used on the farm make a difference. Incandescent lightbulbs typically convert only 10 percent of the energy used into light. There are many other options available:

  • Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) deliver the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs, but use only a quarter of the electricity. Installing CFLs may cost a little more initially, but they can last up to 10 times longer.
  • Cold cathode fluorescent lightbulbs (CCFLs) can last up to 25 times longer and have around the same efficiency as CFLs.
  • T-8 and T-5 lights with electronic ballasts generate less noise, produce more light per watt, offer better color rendering, minimal flickering, cooler operation, and provide electric cost savings.

The U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service provides farm energy calculators. From animal housing operations to irrigation estimates, the calculators assess how much energy your farm currently uses and offer insights on how to cut your energy costs.

Cloverland Electric’s Energy Optimization Agribusiness Program can make it a little easier on the pocketbook to replace inefficient lighting and non-lighting equipment with more energy efficient measures. Project incentives are available to members on a first-come, first-served basis. Qualifying agribusiness projects must reduce electric energy use as a result of the energy efficiency measures installed to be eligible for incentives. Visit for a complete list of qualifying products or to download an application. If your specific piece of equipment is not listed and a more-efficient product is available, all is not lost. There are many projects that may qualify for an incentive under the “custom” option such as grain dryers and milk harvesting/cooling equipment.

To learn more about this new program, visit us at or call 877-296-4319.

Sources: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, EnSave, U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service

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Home Energy Audit Gives A Starting Point

By |2016-11-17T16:47:41-05:00January 1st, 2012|EO Case Studies|

If you’ve ever wanted to make energy efficiency improvements to your home but wondered where to start, Matt Rosendaul can help.

Matt, owner of Great Lakes Home Performance LLC, in Eagle, is certified through the federal Energy Star® program. He uses technology and experience to give you the information you’ll need to make the wisest choices.

And he understands how the average homeowner feels, since he became a certified energy auditor out of personal necessity. At the time, the sports bars he owned and managed kept him busy with long hours. But his home, a Victorian-era building in Charlotte, racked up monthly utility bills of nearly $700.

“I didn’t know where to start,” he says, “but I’ve always been a hands-on person. I knew there was science behind the sales pitches I’d heard about various energy improvements, so I went to the state’s Energy Office.

“One thing led to another and I found my calling—and, it keeps me busy.”

Today, Great Lakes Home Performance is run from his home, served by HomeWorks Tri-County Electric. His wife is the administrative staff, keeping the books. Two field technicians help him work on over 200 new construction and remodeling projects a year, all over Michigan.

His own home demonstrates the cost savings of various energy measures.

“Our home was built in 1965, and it needed all the improvements. We used to use 1,800-2,200 gallons of propane a year. Last year, after we made the upgrades, but using the same 80 percent efficient boiler, we used 575 gallons.

“We did things like R32 foundation walls, R60 attic insulation, to make it air-tight. With solar panels, we could be close to net-zero energy use,” he says.

Whether you choose a quick energy audit, which involves a blower door test and a visual inspection of all energy elements from windows to furnace, or a comprehensive audit that involves software modeling of your home, Matt can give you a list of your best bets for energy upgrades.

And the consultation doesn’t end when the audit is completed. “I encourage homeowners to have their contractors call me for more information—in effect, they’re leasing my brain power,” Matt says.

The most common energy flaw, he notes, is air infiltration, “the non-obvious things you can’t see,” such as the connections between the house and garage, or into the attic or basement. You can only find these with a blower door test, trained eyes, and maybe an infrared camera, he says.

Matt’s easy tips: Go for low-hanging fruit, by installing compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) and a programmable thermostat. Get your furnace tuned up to make sure it’s running efficiently.

Then, fix the obvious stuff first. Before blowing in cellulose insulation to your attic, air seal around the attic access door. (Most houses don’t have enough attic insulation, Matt says. In Michigan, “enough” is R49-50, or about 13-15 inches of cellulose.

Make sure the foundations are insulated—a lot of people underestimate how much is needed. Consider your basement a conditioned space, even if it’s uninsulated or unfinished.

Crawlspaces, especially if they’re vented, cause high energy bills. Insulate them and seal the ductwork.

Visit for more tips like these, information about home energy audits, or to take advantage of Matt’s free library.

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