Houghton Energy Efficiency Team Initiative heating up as weather cools

Published: Oct. 6, 2016 at 10:47 AM EDT
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The Houghton Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) is entering the final quarter of its two year initiative to make Houghton County more energy efficient.

They are encouraging income-qualified Copper Country residents to stop by the HEET office at 422 Quincy St in Downtown Hancock with an UPPCO bill or proof of income to pick up free energy efficient LED light bulbs. HEET will also be winterizing two homes a month in October, November, and December and is currently working on improving the area’s energy literacy through a collection of twenty videos from sources that play a determining role in the U.P.’s energy landscape.

HEET, which is sponsored by New Power Tour, Inc., was formed in the summer of 2014 as a way to help the residents of Houghton County navigate the challenging energy landscape facing the Upper Peninsula as well as competing for the five million dollar Georgetown University Energy Prize. HEET worked with diverse members of the community to develop the Houghton County Energy Plan, which outlines a vision of becoming a model for rural communities. To reach this vision, HEET members connect various groups, residents, businesses and denominations with existing local resources to help save money on their utility bills.

Over the last two years, HEET has helped replace 79 older, inefficient refrigerators with new, Energy Star refrigerators, handed out 6,921 LED light bulbs, replaced 35 electric water heaters with heat pump water heaters, conducted 5 gas on-demand water heater replacements, conducted 199 Department of Energy “Home Energy Scores”, and completed 55 volunteer home winterizations.

“Taking energy efficiency measures sets the table for interesting and informed conversation about our area's energy future—and there is opportunity wrapped in the challenge of our electric rate,” said Melissa Davis, HEET Energy Manager. “We serve as a stepping stone to thoughtful consideration of the possibilities and obstacles. We hope that the area takes this opportunity to engage, directly helping those who need it most and moving towards a proactive rather than reactive energy future. Show up. Learn Skills. Help Out.”

Houghton County was announced as one of 50 communities from across the country named as a semifinalist in the hunt for the five million dollar Georgetown University Energy Prize. Competing communities need to demonstrate their ability to reduce energy consumption over a two-year period (2015-2016). If Houghton County wins, the Prize will go into a fund at the Keweenaw Community Foundation which will create a self-perpetuating program to continue efforts to make Houghton County energy efficient and independent.

Jim Vivian, Executive Director of the Keweenaw Community Foundation (KCF), said, “The price we pay for energy is one of the highest in the country. One of the ways we can reduce the costs of our utility bills is through making our homes more energy efficient. HEET helps our environment, our wallets, and our quality of life in Houghton County, and we’re proud to be partnering with them.” Through KCF, community members can provide help through tax-deductible donations.

For more information on the Houghton Energy Efficiency Team, the LED Program, or to be added to their boots-on-the-ground winterization campaign, please visit http://newpowertour.com/heet/ or contact Melissa Davis at melissa@newpowertour.com.