Homeowners know the value of energy efficiency and usually take steps that will save them money. Young college students living in older home rental properties off campus are an entirely different story.
However, there are simple steps even student renters can take to save them much-needed cash, and a new program at UW-Eau Claire aims to get the message out to them – with some help from Chippewa Valley Technical College.
The program is called $CORE, (Student and Community Outreach on Rental Efficiency), launched by UW-Eau Claire’s Student Office of Sustainability after securing a grant to fund the project. In the program, Student Energy Educators will go into students’ rental homes to conduct a basic energy efficiency audit, and advise the renters and the landlord of simple, inexpensive steps that can be taken to save on energy costs.
For training of the Student Energy Educators and program directors, UW-Eau Claire turned to Chippewa Valley Technical College.
“If students are going to inspect houses, they should be taught in an environmentally efficient house, so they know what to look for,” said Brian Barth, chairman of CVTC’s Residential Construction program.
Barth had just the place to show the students – the home built by the Residential Construction students on Pumphouse Road in Chippewa Falls last spring. He met the students there for a training session, along with Dave Geissler of Focus on Energy, on Oct. 24.
“Part of the $CORE training program is to evaluate the type of windows in the home, also what type of heat source – is it gas, or electric,” Barth said.
The type of lighting is also important. Installation of energy-efficient light bulbs, along with weather stripping windows, are simple, inexpensive steps students can take.
The $CORE plan projects potential annual savings of $275 per home.
“We’re trying to get the auditors some real professional training so they will feel comfortable going to students’ homes and talking about being energy efficient,” said Greg Nelson, student director of the project for UW-Eau Claire.
“The program is for students and by students. Having everyone on the same level helps students connect with their own demographic,” Nelson said.
The plan calls for auditing of 80 student rental properties this fall, with more properties to be audited in spring 2013. Nelson said the program is off to a good start, with about 30 homes already signed up, before the university even started its publicity efforts.