Sunday, March 3, 2024

 Workshop on Home Energy Upgrades & the I. R. A.

I led an on-line workshop on how to get started on home energy upgrades and how folks in Minneapolis can save the most money through rebates and federal tax credits.   The video can be found at .  

If you have any questions, please post them on Youtube, under the video.

A link to the reference sheet and worksheet mentioned in the video is on the left hand side of this page.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Information on Replacing Your Air Conditioning with Heat Pumps/Mini Splits


Information on Replacing Your Air Conditioning with
Heat Pumps/Mini Splits

Hi, all - a neighbor reached out to me recently asking for contractor and financial information around heat pumps.  Below is a slightly more polished version of what I sent her.
(Note:  I refer to heat pumps, which are used with furnaces because the venting is already in place.  If you have a boiler, you would want to ask about mini-splits.  Same mechanics, just no vents.  Information on contractors and finances is the same.)

1) One thing to know is that you will still need a backup to the heat pump, since it only works down to a certain temperature.   15 degrees is usually the cutoff point, but the heat pump should work down to negative 15 degrees.  (15 degrees is the most efficient.)   A furnace should be fine.

2) Here is a link to an article on how they save you money in the long run -

3) I now have 2 heat pumps since I live in a duplex.  The one downstairs (installed in 2021) is backed up by a gas furnace and cost about $11,000 - $12,000, which included replacing my furnace with a high efficiency furnace.  Perfection Heating put it in.    The upstairs unit (installed this past spring)  is backed by an electrical coil, cost about $13,000 (including the coil) and was put in by 4Front Energy.    I would recommend both companies.  The only reason I switched to 4Front Energy was they provided a lower bid than Perfection Heating, which I believe was caused by the electrical coil.    I don't know what impact the electrical coil will have on my electric bills this coming winter, so can't yet recommend it.  

If you are wondering how I afforded this, I signed up for Minneapolis' 4D Program for landlords -  4d Affordable Housing Incentive - City of Minneapolis (, which paid 70% of the cost.   If you are a landlord and have questions about that, feel free to reach out.

4) If you want more names of contractors you could call, check out this list -   You can try other contractors, but may get someone who tries to talk you out of it.  Heat pumps are relatively new in Minnesota and some HVAC companies aren't quite comfortable with them yet.

5) MNCEE offers 0-2% financing if you've had an energy audit in the last 3 years.  

6) There should be a rebate with the unit as well, which the contractor should take care of for you.

7) I'm attaching a summary of what tax credits you would also get.  Be sure to read the second page.   MNCEE can help you walk through these decisions as well.

Mary Britton
'25% by '25' Initiative

Monday, April 17, 2023

Update to how well 25 by 25 has done through 2021!

 Last summer, I reported that Prospect Park residents had brought our natural gas usage down by 6.62% since 2019.  

I heard from CenterPoint Energy recently and the numbers have actually been adjusted to 7.27%!   Woohoo!   

I asked what the numbers were for Minneapolis as a whole and the answer was 4.75%   That means that Prospect Park is decreasing our carbon footprint at a pace 50% faster than the rest of the city!  Double woohoo!

Thanks to everyone who participated!

We'll find out how we did in 2022 at the end of the summer (2023).  

Answers to a recent "25% by '25" question

I've already insulated my house as much as possible and gotten a high efficiency furnace.  What else can I do?

Great question!  And good for you for cutting down your carbon footprint!

1) When it's time to replace your gas hot water heater, replace it with an electric one.  While upfront costs will be more, operating expenses will be less.  The overall cost is basically the same.  (Reach out to if you would like the financial analysis.)

This could cut your gas usage by as much as 13%.

2) When it's time to replace your central air unit, consider a heat pump.  It will cost a few thousand more, but you will be able to heat your home more affordably in early winter and spring with electric powered heat.  

Plus, tax credits are available through the Inflation Reduction Act.

3) Be an ambassador for the 25 by 25 initiative at National Night Out in August.  

The reality is that we need to reach folks one by one and NNO is a perfect time for that.

If interested, please reach out to us at

Mary Britton, Environment Committee

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Sunday, June 20, 2021

25% by 2025 - Prospect Park's Home Energy Initiative


 Hi, all - I'm excited to announce that the PPA Environment Committee is kicking off our "25% by '25" initiative!  Our goal is to work with residents to bring natural gas use down by 25% by 2025.    

 Why focus on natural gas?  

1) It's the number one contributer to Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Minneapolis:

2) There are alternatives for electricity and on road transportation.  You can sign up for wind energy at Xcel Energy and you can bike, bus or take the light rail throughout the Twin Cities.  There aren't easy conversions with natural gas.  The best place to start is to make sure your home is properly insulated and energy efficient.

3) The average home in Prospect Park used almost 25% more natural gas than the state average and 14% more than the Minneapolis average in 2019:

    Note:  Data is from CenterPoint Energy and is for 1-4 unit residences only.

 If you are curious how your home measured in 2019, go to CenterPoint Energy , sign into your account and look under 'usage' for the last 2 years of data.  

What can you do?
1) Get an energy audit!  Go to MNCEE and sign up for an audit.  They will start you with a free virtual audit and then if you are comfortable with it, have a home energy audit.  It's free for households with less than a $100,000 annual income.

2) Seal around windows and doors - Visit CenterPoint Energy - DIY Home Efficiency  for free supplies!    Insulate your walls and attic - Visit CenterPoint Energy - Insulation Rebates to find out about rebates.  Get your furnace tuned up!  Have to replace your hot water heater?  Switch to an electric, tankless hot water heater!  

3) Check back  or sign up (at left) to receive information on neighborhood events and presentations.

4) Post in the comments any ideas I missed or questions you have!  

Would you like one of our groovy 25% by 25' lawn signs to show your households commitment to natural gas reduction?  Email for information on where to pick one up.  We are asking for a $9 donation to offset the cost of the sign.

Thanks, everyone!  This is just the beginning!   


Mary K. Britton - PPA Environment Committee Chair

Monday, April 5, 2021

April is Earth Month! Check out all the wonderful activities going on!

  It's our favorite month again!  Here is a list of events happening in and around Prospect Park.  Please post in the comments if I missed anything.

Thursday, April 8th 7 pm - Land Use and Planning Committee

I will be giving a short presentation on our ‘25% by 2025 initiative, which aims to bring down the natural gas usage in Prospect Park.   RSVP here and complete the form to receive the Zoom invite. 

Saturday, April 10 – April 24:  Neighborhood Cleanup:

The PPA Environment Committee is pleased to announce a neighborhood wide Earth Day Clean up beginning on Saturday, April 10th, and running through Saturday, April 24th. Help keep the storm water drains clear of litter and leaves, pick up the parks, or clean up your section of the neighborhood. We'll have 4 locations where you can pick up supplies (bags for litter & recycling, gloves, and a reusable water bottle) on Saturday, April 10 between 9AM and noon. When you register, you can let us know where you'll be working. Our goal is to cover the neighborhood. Prizes of a $25 gift card will be awarded after a drawing to a lucky person in each of 5 categories (grades 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12, and adult).  Please complete this quick form to let us know which of the 4 areas you will stop by on Saturday, April 10, 9AM - 12PM for supplies (Tower Hill Park, Luxton Park, East River Road, (near the Franklin Ave. bridge, or Towerside Park at 4th St and 29th Ave.). If you can't make it on the 10th but want to be involved, complete the form for ways to be involved. 

April 17 – April 25 – National Park Week

The week-long celebration encourages people to explore the vast network of national parks, sacred sites and historical landmarks in the country's national parks, as well as the shared heritage contained within them. Co-ordinated by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, every national park will have a free admission day on April 17, known as Park Rx Day.


Saturday, April 24, 10 am – 12 noon – Fundraiser for Community Driven

Community Driven’s Foodshare Program has been rescuing large amounts of surplus food from local groceries & restaurants and delivering that food to local food shelves & soup kitchens since May 1, 2019.

Please join us outside of 118 Arthur Ave SE for coffee and treats and a chance to learn more about this great organization that prevents food waste and helps so many people.  For more information on the organization, please visit

Monday, September 28, 2020

“Action is the Antidote to Despair” – Joan Baez

The world can be more overwhelming than ever these days.  There are times when I want to hide under my desk, cling to my dog and eat raw cookie dough.  Sure, that can be great for the first hour or so, but eventually my legs cramp up, I run out of cookie dough and my dog wants to go back to barking at cats out the window.  It is not what one would call a sustainable solution.

So I crawl out from under my desk, drink some diet Coke to counteract the cookie dough and look at what actions I can take to help the world and myself feel better.   There are many.

Maybe you have your own desk/cookie dough/clinging to the dog ritual that you would like a change from?   If so, the following are upcoming community events, as well as individual actions you can take. 

Know of something I missed?  Please call it out in the comments below! 

Community Events:


#1: Help Prospect Park to Look Great and earn a Chinook Book!

"Litter Be Gone" - October 1 - 10th

Pick up supplies on Saturday, October 3 between 9 & 1


Sponsored by the Office of Off Campus Living and the PPA Environment Committee, Litter Be Gone is a series of events to clean up litter across Minneapolis each fall.  Pick up litter in your street and around your block to help keep our city clean.  Lucky enough to have a squeaky clean block?  The banks of the Mississippi could always use some love, as well as Luxton, Tower Hill and Chergosky Park.  And let's not forget the U of M Transitway!


Our friends at Chinook Book have generously provided a 12-month full access subscription ($15 value) to all of our Litter Be Gone volunteers who participate in a cleanup and report their results. Chinook Book partners with some of the best local and sustainable businesses in Minnesota to offer rewards and discounts you can use on essentials like groceries, take out, and online purchases of gifts and household items.  Simply pick up litter in your neighborhood between Oct. 1 and 10, then go to  to share your results. You will automatically receive an email with an activation code and details on how to redeem it.


SUPPLIES: Use your own or pick up gloves and bags on Saturday, October 3 between 9 and 1 at the Family Wise parking lot (corner of Malcolm & University - 3036 University Ave)


REPORT RESULTS:  Report results at  to receive your free Chinook Book


#2: Community Driven “Fun”draiser
In Mary Britton’s front yard at 118 Arthur Ave SE

YOU’RE INVITED! to a neighborhood MEET & GREET FUNdraiser!
Co-Hosted by the PPA Environment Committee
Come meet & talk with Community Driven staff & DONATE in person!

FACEMASKS REQUIRED (we will have some on hand if you forget yours

 * Social distancing WILL be respected

Check our website ( ) for a reschedule in case of terrible weather.
Of course folks can donate on the website without attending and anyone is welcome to reach out to me through the contact info on the Community Driven website with questions or to talk.


 #3 Monthly PPA Environment Committee Meeting

Tuesday, October 13th

6:30 - 8 pm

For Zoom details, RSVP at


 Agenda: "Action is the antidote to despair"

If you are concerned about climate change and our environment, please join us in our monthly meeting. Priorities of the environment committee include lowering the neighborhood's carbon output while building community resiliency.

Short term initiatives:

-        Promoting home energy audits

-        U of M student outreach

-        Working with SE Seniors


Long term initiatives: Begin drafting 5 year project plan for Prospect Park’s Climate Action Plan. 

-        Reduce neighborhood’s use of natural gas by 20%

-        Promote greener transportation

-        Promote zero waste

-        Plant trees

-        What else?  Ideas welcome!  Volunteers even more welcome!


 Southeast Seniors Event, Wednesday, Oct 28

Home Energy Efficiency for Minneapolis Homeowners
Wednesday, October 28th from 1:30-2:30 pm
Join Realtor Deborah Van Eendenburg as she shares the City of Minneapolis’s new energy recommendations for homeowners. Learn about the new energy efficiency grades, innovative and cost-effective home insulation tips, and get resources that will support you on your energy-efficiency journey! In this online class, homeowners will also learn how to reduce energy use while making your property more comfortable, and even increase your home's resale value by 2% to 6%.
Deborah Van Eendenburg is a Realtor in the Twin Cities metro area. A frustrating experience buying her home in NE Minneapolis drove her to become a real estate agent to support others through what can be a complex and overwhelming process. With the most current knowledge of city and state residential home sale requirements, buyer expectations, and market strategies, Deborah works with her clients to execute smooth and low-stress top-dollar transactions. For fun, Deborah coaches youth lacrosse and cross stitches (when her string-loving cat allows).
This class will be held virtually via Zoom. Please call Southeast Seniors at 612-331-2302 or email us at with your full
name, email address, and phone number to register. Please note
registration will close at 9:30 am on 10/28.


#4 Individual Actions


Sign up for the Hennepin Food Waste Challenge!

Did you know that reducing the amount of food that goes to waste is one of the most important actions we can take to address climate change? It may come as a surprise, but the amount of greenhouse gas emissions associated with wasted food is equivalent to 1 in 7 cars on the road.

 The challenge has more than 40 actions to choose from in five categories. You can check off the actions you already take, then select up to five one-time actions and five daily actions to make progress on during the 4-week challenge. You can also see the impact of your actions, see how you are doing compared to others, and connect with others who are taking action.

 Sign up opened on August 31, and the challenge runs September 14 through October 11. Learn more, sign up, invite friends and neighbors and get ready to make meals instead of waste at


Get a Home Energy Audit!

If you are a homeowner, this one is for you!  Did you know that in 2019, the average home in Prospect Park used a whopping 24% more natural gas than the Minnesota average home? 

Go to and sign up for a FREE virtual energy audit.  They will help you determine where your charming old house is leaking energy and the best (and cheapest) ways to stop the waste and pollution.

Adopt A Drain!

See our “Adopt A Drain” information sheet to the left for more information.  Or, if adopting a drain is too much of an emotional commitment, try ‘fostering’ one near you by cleaning out all debris (not just trash) without signing up for it.  By the time the Mississippi has flowed through the Twin Cities, it is 17% dirtier than when the waters entered.  Much of this comes from street drains. 


Know of something I missed?  Have questions or comments on what is listed?  Please submit it in the comments section (below this post).

Please note:  We have had to cancel the annual Neighborhood Cleanup this year because of the Coronavirus.  If you were looking forward to getting rid of old metal, please check out our “How to Recycle (Almost) Everything” guide for where you can bring it.  Or hold onto it until next year. 

Thanks, everyone – and please be kind to yourselves in these tough times!


Mary Britton

PPA Environment Committee Chair