Missoula’s Green Blocks Program

by lizard

I just got done with a free energy audit on our home courtesy Missoula’s Green Blocks Program. Go check out the website for more information.

From what I’ve gathered, this is a pilot program that began in 2008, with the hope more municipalities in the state will be able to participate as results of the benefits of this program percolate among our elected officials and funding continues to exist to keep the project moving forward.

The audit took about two hours and was contracted out to a company called Kema by NorthWestern Energy. I don’t know much about the company, but the guys who work for them out of Helena were incredibly nice and informative. They checked out everything, even vacuuming off a filter on our refrigerator (something i was slightly embarrassed to learn would help with efficiency if kept clean).

At the end of the audit I listened to the breakdown. After the air-test to see how “leaky” our house was, the crawl space around our stone foundation was identified as the biggest potential loss of heat in the winter. Ultimately I decided to sign off on a work order to have our stone foundation insulated and sealed for virtually no cost. The rough estimate of getting this work done without this program was conservatively put at over 1,000 dollars, including materials and labor. The cost we will incur will most likely be under 100 dollars for some additional materials not covered by the program.

Now for the political spin.

At the initial orientation I attended at the fairgrounds about a month ago, the various speakers from all the partnering interests were tasked with “selling” us this project. Why? Because for some folks out there, projects like this, and other smart-grid ideas being floated around, reek of nanny state intrusion.

I gave these guys access to my home and my records on how much energy I use, let them snoop around for two hours, and at the end of this process they suggested what I could do differently.

Luckily I am a happy, willing participant of this program because I believe in responsible use of energy. My wife is even more conscious of our energy use, and before the baby came, hovered the thermostat in the low 60’s. So getting a subsidized chance to make energy-efficient improvements, for us, is a no brainer.

But there is always the other side who sees any attempt to educate consumers on energy use and/or implementing methods to moderate usage as an affront to their blessed freedom to use however much energy they want to use if they have the financial means to do so. This is the I’ll use mine and fuck the rest of you mentality prevalent in this country, which is why, with around 4% of the world’s population, we use roughly 25% of the world’s resources.

While I concede there are certain extremes of smart grid technology that have the potential to get creepy, the reality that our energy and water are not inexhaustible resources make programs like Green Blocs very necessary.

So kudos to the city of Missoula and NorthWestern Energy for teaming up on this project. In such a polarized political season, it feels great to be able to point out something positive happening in our community.

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  1. It would be nice to see how many kwh’s and $$ you save over a year.

  1. 1 Energy Independence Won’t Float Here, No Way « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] the local level, I wrote awhile back about the Green Blocks program, and how it’s small steps like these that can build real momentum by breaking down the […]




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