Energy efficiency starts at home

Small Towns

By Jordan Rasmussen, former staff member

There is a degree of irony discussing energy efficiency during a time of year when many homes are lit like runways. Yet, the cost of a running a few twinkling lights, LEDs of course, pales in comparison to the dollars in heating costs that escape through drafty windows or a furnace in need of a tune-up. Recognizing these opportunities for improved energy efficiency in your home can have a collective impact.

Unfortunately as a state, South Dakota is not known for energy efficiency. Ranked 49th by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy for state policies and programs that improve energy efficiency, South Dakota and its residents have the opportunity to make strides toward efficiency. And these simple steps can start at home.

With basics, like the installation of weather-stripping and caulking around windows and doors you can keep the South Dakota wind out and the heat you are paying for in. Once gaps between doors and windows are filled, opening the curtains and blinds on south facing windows during the day will allow sunshine to help warm your home. And for added efficiency, a programmable thermostat or turning down the thermostat at night or when no one is home, will help mitigate the costs of energy usage.

While these efforts to reduce energy costs can start at home, there is help available.

  • For South Dakotans of limited income or who are elderly or disabled, the South Dakota Department of Social Services offers weatherization assistance. Services may include the repair, tune-up or replacement of heating systems or the installation of weather stripping. Income limits and an application are required for this program.
  • Sioux Valley Energy, serving the Brookings region, offers professional, low-cost home energy audits. The costs of an audit and improvements can be offset with a weatherization rebate. And when building a new home, energy comparisons provide an estimate of costs for different heat sources.
  • In the Yankton area, Clay-Union Cooperative offers the Home Energy Saver. This do-it-yourself home energy audit identifies opportunities for efficiencies while outlining the cost savings.  Accompanying resource guides offer the tools to make these improvements in your home.

Even though there are limited state level policies and programs encouraging energy efficiency measures, the movement for energy and cost savings is at work in the state’s local energy cooperatives and ultimately in homes across South Dakota. By making small efforts to heat your home in the most energy and cost efficient manner possible, not only will you be able to add another string of lights to your display but help make South Dakota a more energy efficient state.