Mary Edsey of Energy Impact Illinois demonstrates a “blow door,” which simulates a 50-miles-per-hour outside wind, allowing her to detect drafts and heat-leaks inside. She was performing a home energy audit for Energy Impact Illinois on a 103-year-old home in Evanston. Fifteen to 35 percent of air that has been heated or cooled leaks out of a home,” said Ms. Edsey.

Energy Impact Illinois, in conjunction with several not-for-profits and utility companies, is enticing homeowners to have one of their representatives perform a home energy audit by offering a reduction on the cost of the audit and a cash rebate on certain work performed as a result of recommendations from the audit. Air-sealing and adding insulation are the two most cost effective upgrades, said Ms. Edsey.

The average cost to properly insulate and weatherize a home is roughly $2,000-4,000, but, according to Energy Impact Illinois, homeowners who make these two efficiency upgrades could significantly reduce their energy use. Homeowners who follow the recommended steps and use certified contractors are eligible for a rebate of about 70 percent of the cost of the work – up to $1,750, said Ms. Edsey. The coalition also offers low-interest loans, with no interest due in the first year, she said.

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is the lead agency behind Energy Impact Illinois. The utility companies have joined the energy-saving bandwagon to reduce wear and tear on their infrastructure, Ms. Edsey said. The utilities invovled are ComEd and NICOR. The toll-free number for Energy Impact Illinois is 1-855-9IMPACT.