Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

Energy Efficiency: The Secret to a Better Home

May 31, 2012 04:39PM ● By Jill Schaefer

Replacing an old air conditioner with an energy-efficient model can reduce your cooling bill by 30 percent on average.

When it comes to home improvement, energy efficiency can make a big difference. Here’s how two Milwaukee homeowners made their homes better.

Lorraine McCullough bought her 712-square-foot home on Milwaukee’s Southwest side 19 years ago and has been making upgrades ever since. “I made many upgrades, but not in the areas that still needed to be redone,” says McCullough. “My home was drafty and uncomfortable much of the time.”

Jon Riemann’s home on Kaul Avenue is located along the flight path for Timmerman Airport. But, besides planes, the Riemanns also heard cars, dogs and other neighborhood noises.

Riemann and McCullough understood the need to solve their home’s underlying issues. When each of them heard about the Milwaukee Energy Efficiency (Me2) program for city of Milwaukee residents and businesses interested in reducing energy expenses, they set up a free appointment with an energy advocate. Me2 is a program sponsored by the city of Milwaukee and funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to make home-energy-efficiency upgrades easy and affordable. A Me2 energy advocate serves as a local, friendly resource and point-of-contact for the program.

The energy advocate offered the two homeowners easy, no-cost ideas to save energy. McCullough learned that her high energy bills and drafty rooms were related to energy-efficiency problems. Riemann discovered the tie between insulation and noise levels. “Having a professional walk through your home and discuss energy-saving ideas specific to your home, as well as the added comfort, are reasons I would recommend the program,” says Riemann.

Milwaukee homeowners learn that an energy advocate can be the key to unlocking the potential in their homes.

In order to provide McCullough and Riemann with detailed information about their homes, their energy advocates recommended that they each get a home-energy assessment. The

Adding insulation is generally one of the most effective ways to reduce your home’s energy bills.
Adding insulation is generally one of the most effective ways to reduce your home’s energy bills.
$100 (normally $400 or more) assessment included a comprehensive array of tests provided by a certified energy consultant. “Having an expert come in and assess our house and discuss our concerns was great,” says Riemann.

The assessment tested ventilation, insulation levels, air tightness and combustion safety. McCullough was interested, but wasn’t sure how to pay for repairs. Fortunately, Me2 offers financing options through Summit Credit Union. Flexible payment terms, the potential for energy savings to cover monthly payments and a low rate won McCullough over. “I’m happy with everything as the work needed to be done and I could not have afforded to do it without the Summit financing rates and the bonus and rewards program,” says McCullough.

McCullough’s Me2 contractor added insulation to the walls, basement and attic. She also replaced her exhaust fans. Riemann’s Me2 contractors completed air sealing and added insulation. In both cases, the energy consultant double-checked the work and retested the homes.

Both McCullough and Riemann were eligible for up to $2,000 in bonus incentives from Me2. They also received additional bonuses from Focus on Energy, the Wisconsin utilities statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“We estimated we would get back about 50 percent of the project cost,” says Riemann. “We ended up getting 70 percent of the cost back because of how much we improved our home.”

Jill Schaefer is a writer with Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation. For more information on the Me2 program, call 877-399-1203 or visit