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Geothermal energy grants available to non-profits I Secret places where the air leaks hide
New Web site designed for elderly I Illinois Retirement Planning Site Launched
Geothermal energy grants available to non-profits
Geothermal heating and cooling systems look like any other system on the inside of a building except for two insulated pipes that run to the outside geothermal loop.

A unique collaboration between the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC) and the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation provides churches and other non-profit organizations and com­munities with a reason to "go geothermal." Incentive funds totaling $500,000 are available to qualifying Illinois electric cooperative members to install geothermal heating and cooling technology in facilities owned by local government or non-profit organizations. These facilities must receive their electricity from an Illinois electric cooperative to qualify.

Grants of up to $50,000 per project will cover half of the "incremental cost" of each project, or the difference between a traditional heating-cooling installation and a geothermal system.

"Geothermal heating and ­cooling systems are the most efficient available today," says John Freitag, AIEC Vice President of Operations. He cited a landmark technical report issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which calls geothermal systems "the most energy efficient, environmentally clean and cost-effective space conditioning systems available."

The grant program was announced in early December and officially started January 1. The AIEC's grant from the Clean Energy Community Foundation is the largest single award ever made by the Chicago-based organization. "We're extremely pleased to be working with Illinois Clean Energy on this collaboration. We're going to do some great things in the rural communities we serve and electric co-ops can wear 'the white hats' through this effort," Freitag noted.

"The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation appreciates the leadership of AIEC and its members on this effort. We see this as a breakthrough opportunity for public and non-profit organizations. They can benefit from improved comfort in their facilities, lower operating and maintenance costs and reduced energy use, leading to less pollution in Illinois communities," said James Mann, Executive Director of the foundation. "At the same time, organizations taking advantage of this program can offer their peers and the wider commercial sector proof of the energy and maintenance savings during a building's lifecycle that far outweigh the initial capital investment for installing a geothermal system."

AIEC President and CEO Earl Struck accepted the award for the electric cooperatives and cited the co-ops' success in marketing geothermal heating-cooling systems to the residential market. "It's working in thousands of electric cooperative members' homes and it will work just as well in churches, schools and other facilities."

For more information on the program, go to and click on the geothermal button, or contact Freitag or Rick Polley at the AIEC:

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Secret places where the air leaks hide

Cracks around windows and doors were once con­sidered to be the home's most prominent air leaks. Then building specialists starting measuring air leakage with a device called a blower door. As a result of that research, we've learned that the biggest air leaks are lurking in the attic, around the foundation, and where utilities pass through the building's outer shell.

When you find openings that allow air to leak into and out of your home, seal them with durable materials. Every opening you seal will reduce the amount of heated air you lose next winter.
Source: John Krigger, Saturn Resource Management

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New Web site designed for elderly

The Illinois Department on Aging has redesigned its Web site to better meet its clients' needs. The site has been expanded to provide more information on services and programs and to ensure that the information is easily accessible and consumer friendly. Featured sections of the site include:

  • Illinois Family Caregiver Support Program,
  • Assistance in Your Home and Community,
  • Elder Abuse Prevention and Legal Services,
  • Intergenerational and Volunteer Programs,
  • Directory of Agencies and Organizations Serving ­Seniors,
  • Senior HelpLine,
  • Legislation,
  • Demographics on Seniors,
  • News and Online Publications,

In addition, high-profile programs and initiatives are highlighted on the homepage. These include:

  • Pharmaceutical Assistance in Illinois,
  • Grandparents Raising Grandchildren,
  • Seniors and Gambling, and more.

View the Aging Web site at:

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Illinois Retirement Planning Site Launched

Making saving and planning for retirement easier as well as assisting individuals in making informed investment decisions is the goal of a new University of Illinois Extension Web site. "Plan Well, Retire Well" is at:

"The new Web site is part of a larger program of Extension's consumer and family economics team," explained Kathryn Sweedler, an Extension assistant in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics who oversees the Web site. "The team has been interested in retirement planning for a number of years."

"While many people approach their retirement years with sufficient ­savings and wealth to ensure a secure lifestyle after their working years, many other middle-income individuals and families have little or no savings for retirement," said Sweedler. "The Web site aims to motivate people in the 20-40 age range to begin saving."

On the Web site, users can go step-by-step at their own pace through an information and planning process. They can also skip around and go to sections of more immediate interest or relevance to them.

"There is no one answer or way to go about saving and planning for retirement," said Sweedler. "One of the strengths of this site is that it allows people to ask the questions they need answered and to put together their own plan."

Source: Bob Sampson, Kathryn Sweedler:

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