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Bettering buildings in south Marquette

November 21, 2011
By JOHN PEPIN - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - A new Better Buildings Program currently under way is affording residents of south Marquette an opportunity to save money on their energy bills, with more homeowners scheduled to be able to take advantage of the program next year.

The program, which is a partnership between the city of Marquette and the Superior Watershed Partnership, which was started in October as part of a statewide effort, offers homeowners a comprehensive home energy assessment.

There are several goals of the initiative including saving homeowners money on energy bills, increasing the comfort of homes and helping to create and sustain energy efficiency jobs. The program is currently being offered to Marquette residents living south of U.S. 41 through Jan. 31, or until program funding runs out.

Article Photos

This 130-year-old home along Jackson Street received an assessment through the Better Buildings for Michigan Program. From the left, contractor Kerry Noble of Home Evaluation Services and residents Tonya Swenor and Chuck Swenor. (Superior Watershed Partnership photo)

"This is a great opportunity you won't get anywhere else," said Bob O'Neill, who had assessment done on his home located along Division Street. "Most of the time these kinds of things are too good to be true; this time that's not the case."

Natasha Koss of the Superior Watershed Partnership, manager of the program, said homeowners who choose to participate in the program can pay $25 and in return receive up to $700 worth of value via a home energy assessment and basic home improvements including a blower door test, the installation of compact fluorescent light bulbs, faucet aerators, low-flow showerheads, pipe wrap, and a programmable thermostat.

Additionally, homeowners who commit to more extensive energy efficiency improvements as part of the program can qualify for (0 percent annual percentage rate) interest loans up to $20,000 through the Michigan SAVES Home Energy Loan program. A number of rebates are also available. Eligible homeowners can receive up to $3,000 in incentives (not to exceed 50 percent of the total costs of the improvement).

Next year, a designated neighborhood in north Marquette will be able to take advantage of the program.

The home energy assessments are being conducted by two local contractors: Michigan Energy Options and Home Evaluation Services.

Resident Karen Schmidt applauded the program and the contractors.

"The contractor for my home assessment was extremely knowledgeable about home construction, the science of energy transfer, heating and electrical and the latest in energy efficient products and rebates through the BetterBuildings for Michigan Program," Schmidt said.

Schmidt plans to take advantage of the program to make additional energy improvements once she sees the final report.

The two weatherization specialists working on the program have a total of more than three decades of experience in the business and have weatherized hundreds of homes in the region.

Koss said homeowners who take significant steps to weatherized their homes can save up to 44 percent on their energy bills.

"Because this is a state program (through the Michigan Energy Office) offered with federal dollars, these are Marquette residents' tax dollars coming back to them," Koss said. "It's a great opportunity not to pass up."

Koss said that with grant funding, rebates and technical assistance, the program in Marquette is valued at over $1 million.

To participate in the program, you must live in south Marquette, south of U.S. 41. To sign up, contact the partnership office at 228-6095, or visit the agency's website at:

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.



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