Energy efficiency and low-polluting technologies for generating electricity help prevent pollution. A significant amount of pollution comes from the production and use of energy, including release of nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen fluoride, barium, chromium, and mercury.
The MPCA partners with industry, universities, nonprofits, and other units of government to decrease pollution resulting from our production and use of energy. Working together, we help achieve the energy reliability, economic viability, and environmental benefits needed for the state.
You, too, can do your part to save energy, money, and our environment
How does your household's use of electricity compare?
Add up your past 12 months of electric usage in kilowatts hours (kWh) and divide by 12 – then compare this to the average Minnesota household's usage.
My household _________ kWh
Minnesota average: 800 kWh
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) site allows you to estimate your household's contribution to emissions from electricity generation. Visit the EPA's Clean Energy Power Profiler.
Choose energy efficiency
It may not seem like using a different kind of light bulb or fixing a leaky faucet will do much good, but with these easy ways to save energy, you'll notice a difference — and make a difference!
- Do a home energy audit. These surveys analyze how and why you use energy at home, and show you easy ways to conserve. Check to see if your utility offers home energy audits.
- Seal air leaks and weatherize doors and windows. A few inexpensive tubes of caulk, foam sealant, and weatherstripping can increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems.
- Check your mechanical systems annually. Keep water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners, ventilation systems, and gas fireplaces tuned-up for efficient operation. Clean or replace filters in your furnace and central air conditioner every month for increased operating efficiency and longer life.
- Install a programmable thermostat. These devices automatically lower the room temperature while you're sleeping or away from home.
- Plant a tree. One well-placed shade tree can reduce the need for air conditioning energy.
- Switch to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs or LEDs (light emitting diodes). They last longer than ordinary incandescent bulbs, and they use less energy. CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury and require proper disposal, however it is less mercury than would be emitted by a coal-fired power plant to light an incandescent bulb for the same amount of time.
- Install a water-saving showerhead. You will save energy by heating less water and also save water. You can use less energy if you wash clothes in cold water.
- Turn down your water heater to 120 degrees. And when you go on a trip, set your water heater to the lowest setting.
- When replacing old appliances and electronics, look for the ENERGYSTAR label — these products use less energy than standard products.
- Turn appliances off. Standby modes on televisions, stereos, computers and battery chargers continue to draw power if not fully turned off. Unplug chargers and use outlet switches to turn off entertainment systems and other equipment when not in use.
- Use smaller kitchen appliances whenever possible. Microwaves, toaster ovens and slow cookers can use 75% less energy than a large electric oven.
- Get rid of that extra refrigerator or freezer. It could be adding more than $100 to your electric bill every year.
Remember rebates! Many utilities offer various rebate options for the purchase of energy efficient applicances. For more information, visit the Office of Energy Security - Efficiency webpage.
Buy wind power
One way you can make a difference is by buying renewable energy, such as wind power. Wind power production emits no air pollutants. Minnesota, especially southwestern Minnesota, has some of the best wind resources in the nation.
Under the following programs, wind power purchased is not transferred directly to your home. Instead, the additional surcharge is used to offset costs associated with developing and generating electricity from wind and other renewable sources. At this time, building new wind turbines costs more per kilowatt-hour than using power plants that already have been built. Your participation in these programs contributes to the development and increased use of renewable energy sources.
- Alliant Energy Second Nature – Customers may elect to purchase a percentage of their monthly kilowatt-hour usage as renewable energy. To sign-up or for additional information, visit the Alliant Energy website or call 800-255-4268.
- Dakota Electric Wellspring – Wind energy may be purchased in 100-kilowatt-hour blocks. To sign-up or for additional information, visit the Dakota Electric website. or call 651-463-6212.
- Minnesota Power WindSense – Wind energy may be purchased in 100-kilowatt-hour blocks. To sign-up or for additional information, visit the Minnesota Power website or call 800-228-4966.
- Otter Tail Power TailWinds – Wind energy may be purchased in 100-kilowatt-hour blocks. To sign-up or for additional information, visit the Otter Tail Power Company website or call 800-493-3299.
- Xcel Energy Windsource – Businesses may purchase wind energy in 100-kilowatt-hour blocks. To sign-up or for additional information, visit the Xcel Energy website or call 800-481-4700.
For more information on clean energy, visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce's website.
- Energy Saver (U.S. Department of Energy) Learn ways to save energy and use clean, renewable technologies at home, while driving, and at work.
- Minnesota Energy Challenge The Minnesota Energy Challenge is a fun and easy website where Minnesota residents can learn how to stay comfortable and save money in their homes. Calculate your carbon footprint and help move your community toward change.
ENERGY STAR | Environmental Protection Agency
ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.
Energy Info Center | Office of Energy Security, Minnesota Department of Commerce
We provide information and assistance to residents, builders, utilities, non-profits and policy-makers on home improvements, financial assistance, renewable technologies, policy initiatives, and utility regulations.