Energy Impact Illinois -- "This rebate program rocks!"

I was almost a no-show at the Energy Impact Illinois “house party” at the home of my friends, Dick and Sally.  I had gotten home after seven that night, and although very interested in the topic, I was tired and figured I probably knew most of this stuff already.  But I like the hosts, and decided to check it out.  I was late, but immediately pleased with the party food -- and on top of that, it turns out I didn’t actually know everything there is to know about energy efficiency.

I learned a lot from the Energy Impact Illinois speaker, Anna, as well as from the fellas at Energy 360 Solutions, a contractor affiliated with the rebate program. It was cool to see them demonstrate a blower door test, which measures how much heated, or air conditioned air a house is losing to the outside.  The demonstration resulted in the realization that when heated or cooled air is lost to the outdoors, the energy used to heat or cool it is being wasted! 

A few days later, I decided we were going to do this.  I decided that we were going to go down the path of seeking energy efficiency in our home (I have a partner, but I wear the energy efficiency pants in the family). Our house is over a hundred years old and was an excellent example of inefficiency with its low levels of insulation and drafty windows.

It was encouraging to learn that many of the improvements that help the most are relatively inexpensive, such as the sealing of air leaks and the addition of insulation. Plus, the rebate, which is 70%/$1750, was a big incentive. Visions of dollar signs danced in my head. I love the earth and all, but I also liked the idea of having a rebate that would largely pay for the improvements, as well as lower our utility bills.

I called to arrange for the $99 energy assessment offered by Nicor/ComEd (1-877-821-9988, The phone call lasted ten minutes, and I had an appointment for the assessment a few days later. At that appointment, an energy advisor scoured the entire house to determine the best efficiency upgrades for our home. She was in our house for about two hours, and at the end, offered three options for improvements.  Improvements ranged from basic air sealing and insulating, to replacing our air conditioner and furnace with more efficient models. We also received a detailed report and estimated savings and payback times for each of the options.

We decided to go with the basic option, which included air sealing and insulation of a large part of our attic. Upgrades likely to pay for themselves in about eight years. All options, however, include combustion safety testing of major appliances, including the furnace, to ensure they are not emitting dangerous gases into the home.

At first, I had a little trouble with getting the work moving.  There are a few different players in the rebate program, and they are not very coordinated with each other. Nevertheless, we arranged to have the work done within a month. The quality of the work was excellent, and it was completed in a single day.  And it only cost us $845, with the rest covered by the rebate. We are now the proud owners of some R-49 insulation in our attic (that’s really good) and a lot fewer air leaks!  

Lessons learned:

1. Go to parties even when tired

2. This rebate program rocks.

For more information on Energy Impact Illinois click here to see related article.

Submitted by Anne Jordan-Baker