Chad Bulman: Focus on Energy helps save energy, money

Posted on Oct 3, 2015

We rely on energy to keep us warm, light our homes and power our businesses. As we begin to feel the first chills of fall and fire up our furnaces, it’s a great time to reflect on the importance of energy in our lives.

In 1991, President George Bush declared October to be National Energy Awareness Month as a way to draw attention to the importance of energy to national security, and economic and environmental interests. We need energy but we don’t often think about where it comes from.

In 2001, the Wisconsin Legislature created the Focus on Energy program, the Wisconsin utilities’ statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program. Focus on Energy provides technical assistance and financial incentives to help participants complete energy efficiency projects in their homes, farms and businesses — both large and small.

The program offers something for all customer types, from a renter in a small apartment all the way up to a paper mill or a steel plant, and across many technologies including lighting, renewable energy and building shell improvements. Homeowners or renters who save money on their monthly energy bills can turn around and spend those savings in the local economy. For businesses, reducing costs boosts the bottom line, allowing businesses to reinvest and grow.

The Focus on Energy program also relies on many local businesses such as electricians, HVAC contractors, consultants, engineers and retailers throughout Wisconsin to help customers find and install energy-efficient equipment and make energy-efficient improvements to their homes or businesses. Our trade ally contractor network includes over 2,000 service and product providers that bring skills, expertise and technology to customers throughout the state. Trade allies are able to profit by helping customers reduce energy costs, which is a real win-win situation.

Even those that don’t participate in Focus on Energy benefit from the program. We are all connected to the electric grid. When the grid needs to be upgraded or capacity needs to be added, we all pay for it through our utility bills. If we were to each reduce our burden on the system, even by just a little, everyone on the system would benefit from the reduced load. A kilowatt-hour that doesn’t need to be produced is cheaper for everyone.

Independent evaluations of the Focus on Energy program reveal that for every dollar invested in the program, over $ 3 in benefits are provided to ratepayers in the state. Focus on Energy truly empowers the people and businesses of Wisconsin to make smart energy decisions with enduring economic benefits.

If you haven’t checked out Focus on Energy yet, now is the time to do it during October Energy Awareness Month. Switching out one light bulb to a CFL or LED or working with a Focus on Energy trade ally to purchase energy-efficient equipment can save you money and save energy.

To learn more, visit

Chad Bulman is director of energy portfolios at Focus on Energy in Madison.

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