The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Johnson County rolls out county-wide free home energy audit program

The program will help residents become more energy efficient, which saves money and the environment.
Jordan Barry/The Daily Iowan
Mayor Bruce Teague addresses the council during a Iowa City City Council meeting at the City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024.

Johnson County residents who live in rural areas will now have access to free home energy audits to save money on their bills and encourage energy sustainability.

The program that started in January is operated through Green Iowa AmeriCorps, which has overseen the same program in Iowa City for the last seven years. According to the county’s website, the program is open to county residents who own a home. Renters can also use the program after getting permission from their landlord.

Ashley Coffin, the assistant director for Green Iowa AmeriCorps, said once a homeowner or renter requests the free audit through the organization’s website, members from Green Iowa AmeriCorps go to the property to assess its energy efficiency and safety.

This means the members will look for any air leaks around places like attics or windows and other places that can be more energy efficient, such as light bulbs, Coffin said. Members will also inspect water heaters and furnaces to ensure they work and no mold or asbestos is present, she said.

After identifying any minor repairs, the members will make those fixes for no cost, Coffin said. If the members identify any larger repairs or replacements, they will provide the homeowner or renter with resources in their area — such as local utility companies — that they can utilize to help get those improvements done, she said.

While this program has been running for seven years in Iowa City, this is the first time it will be available for all residents of Johnson County, Coffin said.

This is because Iowa City’s funding structure for this program limited it to only city residents.

There has been a lot of demand for this program from residents who don’t live within the limits of Iowa City, so the city changed its funding structure to allow all residents within the county to access the program, Coffin said.

Other counties in Iowa also have similar programs that address energy efficiency and sustainability for residential properties.

The free home energy audit program is also available to Linn County residents, Linn County’s resiliency coordinator Karen Kawala said. Coffin said the program also operates in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and Des Moines, in addition to Linn and Johnson counties.

Linn County also has other residential-related energy programs. The county has a “solar dashboard,” a county-run website that contains information for residents to learn more about how they can find funding and installation companies for solar panels on their homes, Kawala said.

Linn County is also working on a rental improvement program that will allow landlords in the county to apply for funding to make their properties more energy efficient, Kawala said. The program is still in its early planning stages.

Becky Soglin, Johnson County’s sustainability coordinator, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that expansion of the program to include the entire county will help those who live in small, rural towns access the program.

The fact that the program is free also gets rid of a barrier to utilizing the program for residents with lower incomes, Coffin said.

“No matter where you live or how much money you make, your home is oftentimes the most sacred space that you have,” Coffin said. “If we can make that more stable, more financially possible, we’re excited to do that.”

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About the Contributor
Isabelle Foland
Isabelle Foland, News Editor
Isabelle Foland is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Spanish. She is a second-year news reporter at The Daily Iowan, reporting mainly on Iowa City City Council. She is from Missouri Valley, Iowa and has reported for her hometown paper prior to her time at The DI.