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Residential Success Stories

Read how customers across our service territory are achieving significant savings by investing in energy efficiency.

If you've found ways to save energy around your home, that makes you a Power Thinker, too! Share your story with us by sending it to powerthinkers@alliantenergy.com.

Marge Nitschke - Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Insulation teaches old house a new trick; reduces energy bill

MargeEighty-year-old Marge Nitschke has lived in her Mayville, Wisconsin home since 1966. She's learned a thing or two about energy efficiency as she continues to keep her 130-year-old house up and running.

Over the years, Marge helped oversee:

  • Electrical system upgrade
  • Implementation of a new hot water system
  • New natural gas furnace installation
  • Replacement doors and windows
  • Indoor and outdoor lighting projects

Marge’s latest energy-efficiency project was implemented by utilizing Focus on Energy's Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program. Marge hired Blaze Insulation, a qualified contractor through Home Performance, to visit her home last January during one of the coldest stretches of the winter, to do a thorough home energy evaluation.

As part of the evaluation, the home was reviewed as an entire system and the heating equipment safety was checked as well. Marge knew her home was a bit drafty and when the consultants used fans to see where air was escaping and coming in, it was determined that her hunch was right and that the home needed extensive insulation.

Over a three-day period, insulation was added throughout Marge's house including the attic and the basement. Marge says she spent around $3600 on the project and received about $1100 in Cash-Back Rewards from Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's statewide resource for energy efficiency and renewable energy. The drafts are gone and there has been a significant reduction in her energy bill as well.

"I certainly feel this is a wonderful program and I tell other people all the time about it," she added. "It just makes sense to become more energy efficient and save money while you are doing it."

Her best advice for her friends, neighbors and other homeowners is to get motivated and move forward with that first project. "A lot of people talk about energy efficiency and know it's a good idea but they don't end up following through. It's always a good time to get started on saving energy and saving money."

Ashley S. - Clarinda, Iowa

Easy money: Cut energy bills with a Home Energy Audit

AshleyImagine saving $10, $20, $30 or more on your energy bill every month. It’s entirely possible when you complete a Home Energy Audit from Alliant Energy.

Ashley S. from Clarinda, Iowa, recently completed her Home Energy Audit. She now recommends the service to all of her neighbors and friends. "The auditor was very professional and gave me so many energy-saving ideas. I wish I would've done it sooner."

During a Home Energy Audit, a certified energy expert comes to your home and gives it a top-to-bottom energy inspection to pinpoint where your energy dollars are going, and more importantly, what you can do to save money.

In Ashley's case, the energy expert recommended the following:

  • Add insulation
  • Replace heating/cooling system
  • Replace select appliances
  • Replace windows

The auditor was able to give Ashley a cost estimate on each upgrade, and an idea of how much each one might save her on her energy bill. "We've started with adding insulation and a clock-programmable thermostat. Right away we noticed that the furnace wasn’t having to run as much."

In addition, Ashley will most likely qualify for a federal tax credit and an energy-efficiency cash reward from Alliant Energy, which will pay for 70 percent of the cost of insulation and installation, up to a set amount, and up to $25 of the clock-programmable thermostat.

During an audit, the energy experts sometimes install valuable energy-saving measures like compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), low-flow showerheads, or a water heater blanket on the spot for free. In Ashley's case, the auditor installed CFLs in her most-used light fixtures, which will help her save about $60 each year on lighting costs.

Tina and Bruce Duemler - Baraboo, Wisconsin

Solar lights the way for Wisconsin artist

solar panels on cabinAs an artist, Tina Duemler works in her rural studio near Baraboo, Wisconsin, overhead a 3.6 kW Photovoltaic (PV) installation silently provides the power that gets her through the day. Tina and husband Bruce’s solar panel project was finished in April 2009, but she reports the route to completion took time.

The Duemlers started on the path to solar by attending the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) Fair in Custer, Wisconsin. "It was kind of overwhelming at first," Tina reports. "There was a lot to absorb."

Simultaneous with their solar research, Tina and Bruce had an energy audit of Tina's studio and their century-old farmhouse. Among their findings was an old, inefficient chest freezer that was cracked and burning up energy to stay cold. "It was a real eye opener to find out where all the leaks are and how little things like caulk can do so much," Tina observes.It took four or five years to implement all the recommended energy-efficiency measures, and meanwhile the Duemlers continued their research. They interviewed PV system installers and talked extensively with others who already had PV installations. Everyone was extremely helpful and willing to share their experiences, according to Tina.

What began as simple curiosity and their first energy fair visit has become a reality for the Duemlers. "The installation looks great, which is important to me as an artist. And what’s more, it's raised our awareness of our energy use and gives us a good feeling to know we're generating our own power, and anything beyond what we use goes back to the community," Tina concludes.

Margaret and Warren Torkelson - Garner, Iowa

Torkelson's lifestyle reflects environmental stewardship

TorkelsonsCustomers Margaret and Warren Torkelson make extraordinary efforts to be environmentally conscious, starting with their participation in Alliant Energy's Second Nature voluntary green pricing program. As Second Nature customers, the Torkelsons help purchase earth-friendly wind power and biomass energy.

The Torkelsons believe that environmental stewardship begins at home. At their Garner, Iowa, house, they've installed energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs; taking advantage of Alliant Energy rebates for those bulbs, as well as for their furnace, air conditioner, insulation, and windows.

Home improvements with the environment in mind are an ongoing process at the Torkelson home, purchased in 1987. Improvements include:

  • Built a roof over the patio to shade the west doors from the summer sun
  • Added six inches of insulation to their attic, and inside of their garage including doors
  • Added more vents and a wind turbine to their roof
  • Replaced windows and doors with energy-efficient models Updated to energy-efficient kitchen appliances
  • Converted their conventional fireplace to natural gas.

The Torkelson's lifestyle also reflects their environmental stewardship. They run their electric dryer and dishwasher at night and turn the thermostat down until they come home from work. They keep the bathroom door closed when they go to bed, too, so that the room is warm in the morning.

Outdoors, they've added trees to boost afternoon shade and a new spruce to lengthen the windbreak on the lot's northwest edge. Heavy clothes are dried on a clothesline in summer and a wooden rack in winter. To learn more about Alliant Energy's Second Nature program, visit alliantenergy.com/secondnature.

Are you ready to put your home to the test? For a Home Energy Audit, Iowa and Minnesota Alliant Energy customers can call 1-866-ALLIANT (1-866-255-4268) or visit alliantenergy.com/energyaudit. To qualify for a Home Energy Audit, you must receive your primary heating energy from Alliant Energy and your home must have been built before January 1, 1999. Per state regulation, Minnesota homeowners will pay a $25 fee for this service.

Wisconsin Alliant Energy customers can call Focus on Energy at 1-800-762-7077 or check out Focus' free, online energy assessment tool.