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CERT to host alternative energy session in DL on Wednesday

After this past winter we’re all still trying to climb out of, who’s not thinking of how to save a little money on heating costs?

Well, the Central Clean Energy Resource Team can help with education and options.

On Wednesday, various speakers will be presenting ways to keep your house warmer and your pocketbook thicker.

From 1 to 4 p.m. in the Becker County Courthouse, professionals will talk about energy efficiency and heating alternatives, including solar thermal systems, biomass and combined hot air-hot water solar thermal systems. The presentation is free and open to everyone.

While several governmental agencies and larger businesses have been turning to more efficient heating alternatives, this seminar is also geared toward the average resident trying to make improvements at their home.

“If you’re thinking about it or going to think about it in the next few years,” Sandy Gunderson said, you should definitely attend.

Gunderson serves in several capacities in the county’s environmental service department, including regional household hazardous waste coordinator, recycling coordinator and waste educator.

“It’s really exciting this is available in our region,” she said of the energy education. “It’s available to everyone.”

The speakers that day include Sarah Hayden, CERT, and Cal Mayfield, Mahube-Otwa Community Action Partnership, who will both speak about energy efficiency.

Marcus Grubbs, of the Headwater Regional Development Commission, and Randy Hilliard, of the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, will both speak on biomass. Jason Edens, of the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, will speak on solar thermal.

Central CERT Coordinator Sarah Hayden said each CERT region puts on three to five educational events a year regarding different clean energy topics that are timely and helpful.

“This year, propane prices have been extremely, ridiculously expensive,” she said, “and the prices may be lower next year, but it just goes to show how volatile the market can be, in especially delivered fuels.”

Electric and natural gas aren’t cheap either, she added, but this certainly was the year for propane to jump in cost.

“This is a good year and a good time to learn about ways to become a little less dependent on those and therefore a little less vulnerable to those swings in the prices,” she said.

Energy alternatives are becoming more and more popular.

 Gunderson said that economics tend to drive trends, and just having the issues front and center at all times gets people more aware of what they can do to not only save money, but also to use natural resources rather than work against them.

“If we save energy, it’s good for everyone,” she said. “It’s good to look at the whole energy subject.”

Even if people can’t afford the initial price of some energy alternatives, she said there are other cost-effective ways to save money, like replacing inefficient windows and doors. There are also tax rebates, solar thermal rebates and other energy rebates associated with home and commercial projects.

And whether it’s heating the house in the winter or cooling it in the summer, everyone is dealing with energy usage in Minnesota.

“In this area, energy is such a big issue,” Gunderson said.

“People are more and more looking for lasting solutions to rising energy costs and the volatility of the market,” Hayden said.

Gunderson said presentations like Wednesday’s are the perfect way to simply educate people and give them options so the homeowner can make educated decisions.

Residents, businesses, government representatives, farmers, economic developers, anyone and everyone are encouraged to attend.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn about good options for your home or business for the next heating season,” Hayden said. “This is the time to be thinking about next heating season.”

CERT is a statewide partnership with a shared mission to connect individuals and their communities to resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects. CERT is split into seven regions, and Becker County is located in the Central Region.

Wednesday’s presentation will be held on the third floor of the Becker County Court House from 1 to 4 p.m. You can register for the event for free at or call 612-626-0555.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.