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Energy Efficiency FAQs

Q: Are there rebates or other incentives available for energy efficiency projects? A: Yes! There are incentives for which your organization may qualify when you complete energy-saving upgrades. You may have already be aware of rebates offered through your utility providers, but you may not realize there are also grants and financing programs to make upgrading more affordable. Federal tax credits may also apply to certain efficiency improvements. See Energy Smart’s Financial Incentives and Rebate Finder pages for details. Q: How do I know which energy efficiency improvements are best for my business? A: Each organization’s energy use and efficiency needs are different, and Energy Smart will guide you in creating an energy plan tailored [more…]

Case Studies Demonstrate Value of Energy Efficiency Retrofits

In 2013, the University of Minnesota began a retrofit of its Biological Sciences laboratory building to boost its energy efficiency, reduce operating costs, and increase occupant comfort. Data now available demonstrates the remarkable return on investment resulting from this project. A case study published recently by the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) details how the efficiency upgrades yielded a 46 percent reduction in energy use in the laboratory building, and a $242,000 reduction in annual utility costs. According to the report in Valuing Energy Efficiency, the project was completed for $450,000, and “the annual return on investment was approximately 60 percent, which equates to a 596 percent total return on investment when considering the assumed [more…]

Focus on Restaurants: Stop Losing Money on Ventilation

For many restaurants the biggest energy hog is the kitchen ventilation system. Older, low-efficiency models run continuously during operating hours, guzzling electricity and gas, while also venting air that the restaurant owner has already paid to be cooled or heated. Ouch. There has to be a better solution. Meet the next generation in high-efficiency venting: demand controlled kitchen ventilation (DCKV) systems. DCKV systems provide automatic, continuous monitoring of cooking activity, and adjust the kitchen vents to run only as needed. DCKVs use temperature, optical, and infrared sensors to determine when to increase or decrease fan speeds. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, using DCKV, energy use can be cut 70 to 90 percent during off-peak [more…]

MN Report: $1 Returns $4 When Invested in Conservation

A new report concludes that Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) is successfully boosting the state’s economy, creating jobs, and protecting the environment. The independent analysis, released by the Minnesota Commerce Department, found that the program produces a significant ROI: every dollar invested in energy efficiency through CIP generates $4.00 to $4.30 in energy savings, environmental benefits, and new economic activity. Through CIP grantees like Minnesota Energy Smart, utilities offer business customers rebates for high-efficiency boilers, chillers and rooftop units; lighting and lighting control systems; and motors. They also provide design assistance for energy-efficient buildings, and technical assistance to reduce the energy intensity of manufacturing processes. Residential customers receive benefits such as energy audits and incentives [more…]

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…]


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