Curtain rises on energy savings for Cloquet couple

September 6, 2017

Rebates and incentives from Minnesota Power helped set the stage for Frank Milder and his wife, Cheryl Kramer-Milder, to purchase an energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system for their Cloquet, Minnesota, home.

Well-known in their community for founding the County Seat Theater in 1987, Cheryl will retire this winter after 30 years as its artistic director. Frank recently retired as well, wrapping up a 36-year career in the natural gas/pipeline industry. Clearly, performance matters for this couple—and having an informed HVAC contractor who could show them immediate cash-back incentives combined with long-term energy and cost savings sealed the deal.

“The house was about 18 years old, and the furnace had started acting up a little,” said Frank, who contacted Mitch Minardi of Brent’s Heating & Cooling, Carlton, Minnesota, to service the furnace. Shortly thereafter, he learned the contractor was offering a special Arrowhead Home and Builder Show promotion and decided it was time to replace the failing unit.

“We thought we should get something new and improved for reliability,” Frank said.

Brent’s Heating & Cooling has built its business on delivering reliable, energy-efficient HVAC systems that meet the needs of customers. It is one of the top performers in Minnesota Power’s network of contractors qualified to participate in the utility’s HVAC rebate programs. Minardi visited with the couple about their options and pointed out rebates that could bring down the cost of purchasing an energy-saving unit. They selected an energy-efficient furnace with an electronically commutated motor (ECM) and central air conditioning system that qualified for a $375 combo rebate from Minnesota Power and additional rebates from their natural gas provider.

“We were going to put in a new furnace anyway, but the features and rebates made it easier to choose a higher end system,” said Frank, noting the information Minardi provided helped in that decision. “If a contractor is not aware of these (rebate programs), customers miss out on opportunities.”

Many homeowners rely on the expertise of their contractors when choosing an HVAC system. Minardi often uses Minnesota Power’s website as a starting point to explain different energy-efficient HVAC technologies and how they can benefit customers through energy savings and rebates.

“Everybody is on a budget, and price is always a concern,” Minardi said. “I can show them ‘If we choose this product, you can get $200 back,’ or ‘If we combine these products, you can get $350 back.’ After the rebates, customers might wind up paying just a small amount more for an energy-efficient furnace or heat pump than for an inefficient one—soon choosing a better product begins to make the most sense to the homeowner.”

This fall, Minnesota Power is offering an unprecedented number of HVAC promotions with enhanced residential rebates. The specials run from Sept. 1 to Nov. 15 and cover installation and replacement of ground source heat pumps, ENERGY STAR® standard split air source heat pumps (ASHPs), cold climate ASHPs, and communicating programmable thermostats. There also is a full slate of regular HVAC rebates that run through the end of the year.

Ian Milbrath is the new field representative for Minnesota Power’s HVAC program. He will be visiting contractors in the utility’s service territory this fall with information about rebates and special promotions.

“My role is to make sure HVAC contractors working with Minnesota Power’s residential customers have all of the rebate and incentive information upfront,” Milbrath said. “I also hope to get feedback from contractors. They are the ones with feet on the ground so they know what is working with the program.”

Featured incentives

HVAC Rebates - Special Promotion
September 1–November 15, 2017

Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) Rebate
$1,000 (NEW!)

ASHP-Standard Split; ENERGY STAR® certified Rebate
$400 (normally $300)

Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP)-closed loop Rebate
$400/ton (normally $200/ton)

GSHP-open loop Rebate
$200/ton (normally $100/ton)

GSHP-replacement Rebate
$100/ton (normally $50/ton)

Communicating Programmable Thermostat Rebate
$50 (normally $20)

Minnesota Power also is offering regular HVAC rebates on the installation of electrically commutated motor (ECM) blowers and pumps, central air conditioning systems, and money-saving combos.

Visit for information about rebates.

Reminder: Minnesota Power and ComfortSystems are still teaming up to offer rebates on High Efficiency Furnaces and Boilers with Electronically Commutated motors (ECMs) to their joint customers.