T&D World Magazine

Minnesota Power Energizes Website With Energy Calculators

Minnesota Power’s new website features the latest release of Apogee Interactive’s home energy calculator, which now estimates a home’s carbon footprint and provides a national Energy Star "home energy yardstick score" along with the home’s energy use analysis.

In addition, Minnesota Power is the first of Apogee’s clients to help develop and use a customized fuel cost comparison calculator that simultaneously estimates annual home heating costs using five different energy sources.

“Well over 70 percent of the energy used by our residential customers is for home heating. Now they can easily compare the cost differences between various energy sources including electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, propane and ground-source heat pumps,” said Al Lian, marketing analyst for Minnesota Power. Using the calculator, consumers can make informed choices when it’s time to select or replace a home heating system.

Apogee’s new carbon footprint calculation uses regional generation mix data and estimates the carbon emissions associated with the customer’s home energy use. The Energy Star Home energy yardstick score gives residents an idea of how their home’s energy efficiency stacks up with similar homes on a scale from one to 10, with 10 being the most energy efficient. With both new features, users can run scenarios on their homes to see the effect of changes, like upgrading equipment or changing the way it is operated.

The Apogee HomeEnergySuite of web tools on Minnesota Power’s website also features an interactive lighting calculator that shows the cost savings of using compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of standard ones. For all the other common home appliances, another calculator estimates electricity usage for more than 50 appliances -- from flat screen TVs to Energy Star-rated refrigerators. Minnesota Power also offers a new commercial lighting calculator to help businesses find their best lighting solutions and determine if they qualify for rebates.

“The beauty of these new online tools is the simplicity with which they communicate complicated concepts like ‘what is my home’s carbon footprint, and how much will I reduce it by changing my thermostat settings?’” said Susan Gilbert, Apogee’s president and chief executive officer. “Customers hear these terms but often have no context for understanding them. Our calculators communicate in terms customers can relate to and then use in making wise decisions about their energy use.”

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