Stay connected!

Our FREE newsletters provide a daily roundup of the morning’s top headlines. Subscribe today!






In Minnesota, where I live, Xcel Energy offers a really good deal on home energy audits for its customers. For as little as $30, inspectors will check your home’s insulation, windows, doors and heating/cooling system and make recommendations for improving your efficiency. Other utilities throughout the region offer similar programs.

I’ve known about this program for a long time, and like most people, have been putting off taking advantage of it.

That’s because it’s a bit like taking the car to the shop or going to the dentist – there’s probably going to be bad news, and it’s probably going to be expensive. It’s a lot less painful to just put the plastic up on the windows again and live in denial.

That’s where the Energy Bills come in:

The video series, produced by Energy Impact Illinois, features two “Bills” – Little Bill, who is wise in the ways of saving energy, and Big Bill, who is as dumb as a box of hair (“Water heaters kind of regulate how long your showers last because — I do it until the hot water runs out”).

The videos are actually entertaining, and more importantly, make the energy audit process feel more accessible. Because at least you’ll be in better shape than the guy who tries to save money by never changing his furnace filter.

(h/t Grist)

Ken Paulman

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.