Congratulations Millheim! The project launch celebration that took place on November 6th in the Millheim Fire Hall was a success! Community members chatted with energy auditors Envinity, Inc. and Your Home Energy Testing and Drafting, Inc. over apple cider and coffee, while local musicians The Stevadores played folk music as other attendees sat down to fill out residential energy surveys about their home energy use and to read information on the Millheim project. Residents were also given an opportunity to learn more about the comprehensive energy audits that the Borough is offering for $50, and to sign up for an energy audit to be done on their home. Also in attendance was the FirstEnergy/West Penn Power staff, who were available to answer attendees' questions about FirstEnergy's energy reduction incentives in person.
Alan Ilgen, Millheim Borough Council President, discussed the energy reduction measures the Council had invested in which had reduced energy use at Borough-owned properties. According to Ilgen, the Millheim Council recognized the economic value of energy conservation for the residents and understood that such a project would benefit the community. These energy savings first inspired the Borough to consider a project of this scope. Ilgen also encouraged the residents to become more involved in the project by volunteering as door-to-door residential energy surveyors or by being a member of the Energy Advisory Council.
Stacy Richards, director of the Energy Resource Center, then spoke about the first steps of this two-year project and its huge potential for energy and money savings within the community. The first step, she said, is filling out an Energy Survey, which the attendees were able to do at the event. Other community members not present at the launch will be contacted by a door-to-door residential survey volunteer and asked to fill out this information. The next step is to sign up for a $50 energy audit which is offered at a hugely discounted price Millheim residents. The typical cost of a comprehensive home energy audit, Stacy explained, can be up to $550. Energy audits are an incredibly valuable tool that will allow a homeowner, renter or landlord to see which energy conservation measures would be the most cost effective and what the return on their investments would be.
Susan Chlebowski, a participant in the New Berlin Energy Independence project, also made some inspiring comparisons between the success of the New Berlin project and the potential that the Millheim project holds. She noted that the tight knit community of Millheim and how that would be a driving success factor for the project, much like it was for Berlin.