Longfellow Energy Fair Feb 7

energy-efficient-light-bulbBY THE LONGFELLOW COMMUNITY COUNCIL

It was a hot summer day when a group of neighborhood volunteers in Longfellow began thinking of the coming frigid winter and the high heating bills it would bring. What actions could they take now to reduce their electricity and gas bills in the coming months?
The Longfellow Energy Fair will answer those energy questions on Feb. 7 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 2730 E. 31st St. (behind the Lake Street Library). The cost is $10, which includes a light breakfast and lunch from one of two local restaurants. Attendees can visit sponsor organization tables over the lunch hour.
Preregistration is required. Visit the Longfellow Community Council website at www.longfellow.org and click on Longfellow Energy Fair at the top of the page.
Something for Everyone
With three tracks and 14 sessions, the Longfellow Energy Fair has something for everyone—business owners and congregations, homeowners and renters who’ve just started to work on energy efficiency, and people who’ve already made a lot of home improvements and now want to work on conservation and carbon reduction.
Stop Heat and Money From Going Up the Chimney
A lot of older homes in South Minneapolis have beautiful wood-burning fireplaces, but what’s not so beautiful is the energy bill that results because old fireplaces funnel warmth out of the house.
“We all enjoy sitting by a fire. We’re hard-wired to do that,” says Peter Solac, president of Woodland Stoves on Franklin Avenue in Seward. “But let’s enjoy fire sensibly.” He will talk about options homeowners have to make their fireplace more efficient and less polluting, such as controlled-air gas or wood inserts.
Homeowners who want to add a cozy wood stove will be interested to learn that new wood-burning stove technology has become tremendously efficient in generating heat without producing particulate matter that becomes air pollution. That’s important as Minneapolis has seen an increasing number of poor-air-quality days in recent years.
Lower Energy Bills Means More Profits for Small Businesses
According to Bruce Stahlberg, owner of Affordable Energy Solutions, almost every business can save 10% to 20% of their energy costs through fairly simple changes, including the use of programmable thermostats, motion-sensor lighting and maintenance. But which technologies will work best for any particular business and how they fund those improvements is the question.
Stahlberg will do two presentations for business owners, one on energy audits and the steps businesses can take to reduce their bills, and a second session with Matt Kazinka of the Lake Street Council on real-life examples of energy improvements from businesses along the corridor. Business attendees are encouraged to bring a copy of their energy bill with them.
Why NOW is the Time For Solar
Solar is far more affordable than most people realize. With production-based incentives from the state, and federal tax credits through 2016, incentives can cover up to 80% of the cost of installing solar on a home or commercial site.  The Energy Fair has two workshops to guide attendees through the new solar landscape.
Steve Haslach, general manager of Applied Energy Innovations, a solar installer in the Longfellow neighborhood, will talk about solar electric, hot water and hot air technologies for homes and commercial buildings.
Solar gardens are the newest type of solar installation, allowing homeowners and renters to invest in solar even if they can’t put a system on their roof, and providing businesses and churches with an opportunity to lease roof space for solar systems that can serve the community. Presenters from the Department of Commerce, Applied Energy Innovations, Faith Community Solar and Cooperative Energy Futures will provide an overview of the varying ways community solar gardens can be structured.
The solar garden session is for businesses, churches and individuals.
It Takes a Village to Make a Difference in Energy Consumption
Several workshops look at the actions groups can take to improve energy conservation, such as implementing insulation bulk buy programs and weatherization work parties (Cooperative Energy Futures); exploring transit options and joining together to offset carbon usage (Sierra Club); and collaborating with friends and neighbors to tackle behavior change (Transition Longfellow).
Our Energy Future Won’t Look Like Our Energy Past
The day begins and ends with a look into our energy past and future. Energy futurist Jon Friese kicks off the 9 a.m. session with an entertaining look at how the availability of energy changed the lifestyles, family structures and food choices of everyday American and how our lives are likely to change again as we move into a renewable energy future.
The 2:30 afternoon wrap-up session features City Council Members Cam Gordon and Andrew Johnson sharing the city’s vision and goals for its energy future, one that includes a groundbreaking new partnership with Xcel and Centerpoint.

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