MN Energy Smart
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Better Together: Heat and Power

The economies of scale are attracting more and more large companies and government agencies to pursue combined heat and power (CHP) projects. Also known as cogeneration, CHP saves money on energy and reduces environmental impact. CHP recaptures heat from electricity generation that would otherwise be wasted, and uses it to warm buildings, power machines, generate steam, and for other uses. Many noteworthy CHP projects are already happening here in the Midwest, and Minnesota is emerging as a national leader in CHP. Last fall, Gunderson Health System in La Crosse County, Wisconsin became the first hospital campus in the country to achieve energy independence by producing more energy than it needs to operate. The company’s success [more…]

Reach for Your Rebates!

Utility rebates are compelling incentives for businesses looking to upgrade their energy efficiency. If you’ve been putting off investments that will lower your energy bills, now is a great time to learn about rebates to make your project more affordable. Helping organizations find rebates available to Minnesota customers is a popular service offered by Energy Smart. You can do a quick search online at, or contact our staff for personalized assistance. Please note that rebates may require pre-approval, so we encourage you to ask Energy Smart for complete information. Why investigate rebates? For one thing, you may have already made a purchase that qualifies retroactively for cash back. For another, you may not realize [more…]

Minnesota’s Clean Energy Future On Track

A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says that Minnesota’s efforts to reach energy independence are meeting and surpassing national goals. The organization’s analysis credits Minnesota’s “strong investments in efficiency and renewable energy” for putting it “on track to surpass [its] 2022 benchmarks” under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, released earlier this month. With a continuing commitment to clean energy, Minnesota will also surpass state targets in 2030. The Clean Power Plan sets targets for each state to reduce carbon emissions that cause climate change, and provides flexibility for actions states can take to reach the targets. The plan’s goal is to cut electrical sector emissions nationwide by an [more…]

5 Money-saving Tips for Fall

Autumn is a time for raking leaves. Winter is a time for raking in the savings—if you follow these 5 energy-efficiency tips before the cold weather begins. Schedule a tune-up for your HVAC system. Controlling the temperature of your office building, retail store or warehouse space most likely accounts for the largest portion of your energy bill. That’s why energy efficiency experts are gung-ho for tune-ups and maintenance of HVAC systems before the high-demand months of winter. This includes boilers, stack economizers, furnaces, and rooftop HVAC units (RTUs). Not only will your system run more efficiently, but you may also catch and repair HVAC problems before they leave you cold. Seal leaks around doors and [more…]

Dial Up the Energy Savings

Energy Smart is just a phone call away when you have questions about energy efficiency. We work with businesses across Minnesota, giving our staff members the experience to offer sustainability solutions that are easier and more affordable. When you need unbiased advice, calculations and recommendations, don’t hesitate to be in touch. Are you missing out on rebates? Installing energy efficient products or equipment can be a lot easier to afford when you receive a rebate from your local utility company. You can knock down the cost of your up-front investment, and cut the time it takes for your energy savings to pay back the upgrade costs and begin earning you money. Many business managers are [more…]

You May Already Be an ENERGY STAR

The time has never been better to take advantage of Energy Smart expertise and services in preparing your facility to meet ENERGY STAR benchmarks for certification. That’s because the Minnesota ENERGY STAR Challenge has now been announced, inviting Minnesota building owners to achieve 20 percent or more in energy savings—reducing operating costs, increasing environmental sustainability, and earning public recognition for exceptional energy efficiency. Your company may be closer to certification than you think. Some building owners Energy Smart has worked with discovered that their facilities already qualified for certification, or were very close to it. ENERGY STAR certified buildings and plants meet energy performance standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to [more…]

More Efficient Air Conditioners are Bringing Higher Savings

Many companies that install new air conditioning units this year will enjoy higher energy efficiency and greater power savings. That’s because prices are coming down as demand for more efficient units rises, and also due to new efficiency requirements issued by the U.S. Department of Energy this year for air conditioners. The standard measure of energy efficiency for cooling is known as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating. This ratio is calculated by measuring the amount of cooling output (in BTUs) used in a typical cooling season and dividing that number by the electrical energy input (in watt hours) during the same period. The higher a unit’s SEER rating, the more efficient it is. [more…]

Minnesota Cities Taking a Shine to Xcel’s Solar Rewards Community Program

City leaders in Cologne, Minnesota will soon be able to save approximately $44,000 a year on the town’s electric bill, and they are doing it with solar power. The city is the first in the state to commit to all-solar for its municipal electricity needs—but they probably won’t be the last. Many cities, including St. Cloud, and numerous businesses, including Fortune 500 company EcoLab, are preparing to expand the percentage of electricity they buy from solar-powered sources. Two factors appear to be driving a push to solar: a 30% federal tax subsidy for renewable energy projects is set to expire in 2016, and solar-sharing programs through Xcel Energy and other utility companies are offering energy [more…]

3 Questions to Ask an Energy Contractor

Onsite assessment visit from Energy Smart? Check. Energy Smart utility bill analysis? Check. Recommendations received from Energy Smart about energy-savings opportunities? Check. For most companies, the next step is soliciting bids from vendors and contractors, and screening for those with the necessary skills and experience to make their energy improvements a success. (Vendors are companies that provide the product for the upgrade, and contractors perform the upgrade work. Many businesses called “contractors” do both.) After helping hundreds of companies complete energy upgrades, Energy Smart recommends you ask potential vendors and contractors these three questions. How often do you do energy improvement projects? Ask contractors what percentage of their annual business comes from energy efficiency upgrades [more…]

Elevator Efficiency Going Up, Costs Down

Elevator Efficiency Going Up, Costs Down Elevators and escalators account for 2-5% of energy use in multi-story buildings, and can use as much as half the building’s energy output during peak hours. Today, more efficient technologies are helping commercial building owners reduce these energy costs by as much as 40%, according to a study released in January by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and conducted with the support of UTC Building & Industrial Systems. Improved elevator technology can also enhance the experience of visitors by shortening wait times and offering more comfortable temperature control. Saving energy during idle time Nearly all elevators are idle more than they are in motion, especially pump-driven hydraulic elevators typically [more…]


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