Danielle Butenhoff was one of four Home Energy Squad members during the program’s inaugural year in 2009. Working through Neighborhood Energy Connection, she visited homes where she installed basic energy-saving measures ― such as weather stripping, efficient lighting, water heater insulation blankets, programmable thermostats and water-saving showerheads and aerators ― and checked the attic insulation levels and the age and efficiency of the mechanical systems. Because the program was new, she got to work with program staff to develop the program’s practices.
In her time with the Corps, she met hundreds of homeowners, many of whom she found incredibly kind, thankful and inspiring. A favorite visit took place just before the holidays. Because of a scheduling mishap, four HES members ended up at the same house (they typically worked in pairs). The elderly homeowners were retired University of Minnesota professors who were grateful and gracious, making the crew homemade chocolate chip cookies and telling stories about their travels and work.
Danielle has worked directly for Neighborhood Energy Connection for the past five years, currently as a program coordinator in NEC’s residential energy department. She helps homeowners follow through on recommendations from audits, such as finding financing and rebate opportunities. She draws a direct line from her time with the Corps to her current work, including college studies about Minnesota’s 2007 Next Generation Energy Act, from which the Home Energy Squad program was born. “I often think of it as a full circle experience,” she said. “My time as an AmeriCorps member taught me how to make energy mean something to people.”