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Klobuchar at Mahube to talk weatherization

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Weatherization projects for existing buildings have been described as one of the easier ways for homeowners to save money, and also help the environment --  called low-hanging fruit by some.

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"It's more fruit that is rolling and on the ground, said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) of what Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has said about weatherization projects.

Klobuchar stopped by Mahube Community Council in Detroit Lakes on Tuesday as part of a statewide tour to discuss jobs and energy savings.

"We're really looking first-hand at the hard work that's been done on weatherization," she said.

Mahube provides help to low-income homeowners for weatherization projects.

Mahube Executive Director Leah Pigatti said that 200 homes at a minimum would be weatherized this year -- more than doubling the past year's total of 85 homes.

Federal stimulus dollars account for the boost this year, with $1 million coming into Mahube's coffers.

"We received quite a bit more funding," Pigatti said.

Mahube contracted with five weatherization specialists and 13 mechanical/HVAC contractors for its projects.

According to information given to Klobuchar by Mahube, households that have been weatherized by Mahube show a 25 percent savings in energy consumption.

Klobuchar said that help isn't just available for low-income homeowners. There is a tax credit of up to 30 percent of the price -- up to $1,500 total --  for purchasing qualified energy-efficient projects and renewable energy systems. The tax credits expire at the end of 2010.

Business tax credits are also available, which don't sunset until the end of 2013.

Klobuchar said that tax credits are easy ways to encourage energy efficiency.

"You don't need a government program for that," she said.

She said that Minnesota is one of the top five states in weatherizing buildings.

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