Program aims to help students lower their energy costs - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Program aims to help students lower their energy costs

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - College is all about choices - classes, professors, majors, but what about the choice between eating and heating.  Now Xcel Energy and a local university have partnered to help teach students how to save on their energy bills.

"S.C.O.R.E is a free in-home auditing service for students," Greg Nelson, UW-Eau Claire Sustainability Director says.

S.C.O.R.E., Student and Community Outreach on Rental Efficiency, is an effort by UWEC and Xcel Energy to help students living off-campus.

"It helps students learn how to manage their energy use and in turn, manage their energy costs," Liz Wolf Green of Xcel Energy says.

"A lot of older homes, especially student rental properties, are very leaky. They cost a lot of money to heat and light," Nelson says.

It's completely free for students: once they sign up, a university rep goes to their home, seals the windows with plastic wrap, replaces light bulbs with energy efficient ones and gives them a low-flow shower head. All while teaching students small changes they can make to cut costs, like leaving your curtains and shades open to help heat your house.

All to combat, what they call, the split incentive.

"You have landlords who lease the property and you have student renters who rent the properties. Neither one has an incentive to make any investment in the property in terms of energy," Nelson says.

A small investment now that both groups hope will turn into a lifelong change.

"These college students will be future home-owners so its important that they understand energy management issues. We're hoping a program like S.C.O.R.E. helps develop lifelong conservation habits," Wolf Green says.

The program, in its third year aims to help 90 students.  A $10,000 grant from Xcel Energy covers the cost of updating homes.  The program is offered on a first come, first serve basis but we're told there are still spots available.

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