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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Researchers to use home expo to promote energy savings

Friday, March 8, 2013

Changing light bulbs and furnace filters are two steps researchers hope Le Mars residents will take to save money and energy.

The changes are part of a "Switch it, Change it, Save it" research project which began last fall.

Faculty and staff at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), in Cedar Falls, are studying Le Mars and Charles City as two "Green Community" cities.

The UNI study will compare the communities to a third Iowa town which doesn't have an energy reduction campaign.

The latest effort to increase awareness of energy savings will be at the 2013 Le Mars Home Expo next week, according to Mary Losch, of the Center for Social and Behavioral Research at UNI.

"We think it's a great opportunity when people are thinking about new things in their home or re-working something in their home that they think about energy efficiency," said Losch.

UNI staff will provide information at the home expo about the benefits of changing furnace filters four times a year, she said.

"In addition to improving the air quality and reducing dust in the home, it really goes a long way toward making sure energy that is being used by the heating and cooling system is very efficient," Losch said.

People are also being encouraged to try LED light bulbs through the "Switch it, Change it, Save it" campaign in Le Mars.

LED bulbs are light-emitting diode bulbs.

LED bulbs come on instantly to full brightness, are dimmable, do not contain mercury and do not emit UV radiation, according to a brochure the UNI provides at awareness events such as the home expo.

Information about the differences between the traditional incandescent bulb, compete fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs and LEDS will be available from the UNI staff next week.

"We'll have some bulbs with us, too, so some lucky folks will walk away with some LEDS to try at home as well," Losch said.

Through the UNI program, 60-watt LED bulbs are being offered at a "deeply discounted price" at the Le Mars Hy-Vee store, she said.

"We don't have any formal feedback -- we can't say that they're flying off the shelves, but we know that there has been some interest," Losch said.

The bulbs for the "Switch it, Change it, Save it" promotion available at Hy-Vee are designated as ENERGY STAR, which suggests the product has been tested extensively, she added.

"We have good confidence about the quality of the bulb itself," she said.

ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to help consumers save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices, according to the ENERGY STAR website.

A third option to save on utility costs and reduce energy use will be promoted at the home expo through the research program, according to Carole Yates, program manager for the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at UNI.

"We will be able to sign up people for MidAmerican Energy home energy audits and then we forward that information to MidAmerican so they can have their auditors contact the customer to set up an appointment for the audit," Yates said.

MidAmerican offers the audit without charge.

The awareness campaign also emphasizes energy conservation.

"We'll be letting people know that not only are they going to be saving money -- in the long run these changes are also beneficial to all of us in terms of saving natural resources," Losch said.

Both Losch and Yates will be at the home expo sponsored by KLEM 1410 Radio/Powell Broadcasting at the Le Mars Convention Center, 275 12th St. S.E., from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

The UNI energy reduction awareness campaign will continue through the summer with advertisements as well as billboards, according to Losch.

The research program will offer information to people who attend the Plymouth County Fair July 24-28 in Le Mars.

Results of the green communities study will be available in late fall.

"We'll be back in the community collecting information in a systematic way and once we have that information and we've analyzed it, we'd be thrilled to talk about what we learned," Losch said.

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