Saving energy and money can be easy with home improvement

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St. Paul, Minn. — Sometimes you only need to spend a little to save a lot, of energy and money that is. As energy costs rise, you might be on the hunt for ways to cut down on energy usage without breaking the bank. Good news — many people are remodeling or constructing their homes to save energy and become more sustainable. The Eco Experience will feature exhibits to help you save on energy costs and reduce your environmental impact.

The Department of Commerce will show you how to improve your home step by step, in turn helping you save money. Exhibits fair guests can explore include:

#MinnesotaMade Solar: Come see our new solar exhibit with actual panels from Minnesota manufacturers that qualify for the Made in Minnesota Solar Rebate Program offered by the state of Minnesota. Don’t miss the opportunity to have a solar expert assess your home or business for solar suitability through a new online mapping tool created by the University of Minnesota using LiDAR technology.

Improving your home’s performance: Fair guests can visit the sustainability stage to watch a video and learn the benefits for homeowners to have an advanced energy audit. Presented by Twin Cities Public Television.

Shabby Windows: An all new display will demonstrate how to upgrade existing windows through caulking, weather-stripping, or replacement components. Additionally, there will be hands-on opportunities for fairgoers to install plastic film on an actual window, and learn more about low-cost window improvements.

LED bulbs: This hands-on display will have many lighting options that showcase the difference in energy costs, brightness, color and temperature. Creative Lighting will show several new fixtures specifically designed around LED technology, along with innovative lighting control systems.

University of Minnesota New Construction: A team of University of Minnesota students took top honors in a national competition that challenged them to design a high-performance house that uses little or no energy. The school’s “Team OptiMN” beat 33 teams from 27 universities in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Race to Zero Student Design Competition in late April at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. They will showcase their award winning ideas and show fair goers how to build new and build better at their “Better New Homes” exhibit.

ENERGY STAR appliances and products are a significant way for homeowners to reduce energy use and receive other benefits — such as increased reliability. In partnership with Warners’ Stellian. They will showcase several ENERGY STAR appliances and host a random drawing for a $500 gift certificate for ENERGY STAR appliances.

Many people want to reduce energy consumption and their carbon footprint. Some questionable claims can lead people astray in their quest to improve their homes and the environment. Join the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Terry Webster on the Sustainability Stage Friday, Aug. 28 (10 a.m.), to learn how to “Avoid Dubious Energy Investments.”

When it comes to your solar project, should you buy? Lease? Or go with a share in Community Solar? Do you need a string inverter or a micro-inverter? There are lots of solar project details and it can get confusing! Join Rebecca Lundberg from Powerfully Green on Friday, Sept. 4 (4 p.m.), to learn about product options, performance estimates, equipment warranties, tips on comparing solar proposals, and an overview of current costs and incentives, to help you sort marketing hype from what really works.

A full schedule of the free presentations on the Sustainability Stage can be found at www.ecoexperience.org.