Stories from Home: The Jamisons


Block quilt, detail, by Donna Choate. Photographed by Geraldine N. Johnson. 1978.
Coming Home Collection, Library of Congress

Rana Jamison and her husband Henry live in a home built in the 1930s with their two children on the West Side of Cincinnati in Green Township. Their home performance project is a good example of how not everything in life nor in home improvements will always run perfectly smoothly.

However the good news is that with a third party like the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance to offer support, it is much easier to land comfortably on the other side of the major and minor hurdles we might encounter.

The Jamisons were referred to the Energy Alliance’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®(HPwES) Program by Advanced Insulation & Energy Technologies (AIT), an approved Energy Alliance insulation installer they had contacted to add insulation to their attic. The Jamisons’ upstairs bedroom was historically very cold in the winter, and the temperature of their daughter’s bedroom would reflect the weather outside.

Rana utilized an intricate system of quilts (because they are easy to wash), flannel sheets, wool socks, and thermal pajamas to keep herself and her children warm at night. “They would still complain about being cold, and I would have to tell them to put their fleece on,” Rana explained.

Upon learning about the Energy Alliance’s financial incentives and third party quality assurance program, the Jamisons decided to have a Home Energy Assessment completed before moving forward with their insulation project. They ran into some bumps along the way with the installation of their attic insulation, but in every case, Rana was able to get in touch with someone at that Energy Alliance to resolve the issue in a timely manner.

In Rana’s words:

“It would have been a whole other story without the help of Rob McCracken and the Energy Alliance. That [support] was really helpful. I don’t think [our home performance project] would have gone as smoothly without a third party. The other thing we liked was that the inspector gave us other recommendations that we could do ourselves. That was really helpful.”

Shortly after the Jamisons finished insulating their attic, the need to replace their air conditioning unit arose. Rana decided to continue with the HPwES Program; she called the Home Performance Contractor Arlinghaus to give a quote for the AC replacement. “They were really good about itemizing everything. Arlinghaus took the time. They sent us multiple quotes with different scenarios, and they explained the scope of the job. It was very helpful. It only took us a couple of days to work through the proposals and make a decision. It was a good decision for us.”

This winter, Rana and her family will be able to leave their thermal pajamas in the drawer. Her kids no longer complain about the cold; instead they complain they are too warm under that pile of blankets!

Look to next month’s Stories from Home to “Get to Know your Home Performance Contractor: Arlinghaus.”

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Green Umbrella and the Energy Alliance team up

graphic_post_green-umbrella-enegy-challengeDid you know Green Umbrella and the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance have teamed up to work on several local energy efficiency initiatives?

The Green Umbrella is a non-profit organization working to improve the economic vitality and quality of life in the region around Cincinnati. It is made up of over 170 organizations comprising eight action teams, each working within a specific area of sustainability. By maximizing the collective impact of individuals and organizations dedicated to environmental sustainability, the Green Umbrella and its action teams are accomplishing sustainability goals in the Greater Cincinnati area.

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance leads Green Umbrella’s Energy Conservation Action Team, whose goal is to reduce energy consumption in our region by 15% by the year 2020. To do this we have created the Green Umbrella Energy Challenge!

The Energy Challenge

The Energy Challenge is a chance for Greater Cincinnati organizations and businesses to show their support for the region and take advantage of the benefits of home energy efficiency.

The Challenge is currently open to all members of Green Umbrella.

If you have had a home energy assessment completed with the Energy Alliance, look to see if your place of work is a Green Umbrella affiliate. If you haven’t yet had an assessment and would like to bring honor and glory to your favorite Green Umbrella affiliate, take the challenge today!

The Green the MLS Initiative

The Green Umbrella Energy Conservation Team is also currently developing an initiative for the real estate market of the Greater Cincinnati area in order to effectively “Green the MLS” in a way that is beneficial to agents, buyers, and sellers. This is an effort that will help to establish the real market value of green home features.

The team is seeking input from the real estate community in order to move forward with this initiative.  At its next meeting, the team will be discussing how to establish market value for home efficiency improvements.

At the last meeting, Paul and Barb Yankie of Green Building Consulting addressed the challenges and issues they have encountered in their efforts to “Green the MLS.” Dylan Sullivan of the National Resources Defense Council spoke about the use of utility data to improve this process.


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Energy Tip: Programmable Thermostats

Here’s a tip: Use a programmable thermostat, and learn how to use it well.

The average single family home spends almost 50% of its total annual energy bill on heating and cooling. This means that targeting heating costs is an effective way to bring down your annual energy bill. A programmable thermostat can be a very powerful tool when used properly.

A correctly programmed thermostat can save about 20% on your heating and cooling bill, but if not programmed correctly, programmable thermostats waste energy—about $173 a year, on average.

1° = $60

Once you have established your thermostat patterns (away, at home, bedtime), consider turning down each temperature setting by just 1°F. Studies show it takes just under a week to adapt to a 1° temperature change. The average increased annual savings for accepting a 1°F change in the set-point value of your thermostat is $60.

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Energy Tip for December 2012

December brings us long, cold nights and rising energy bills.

Heating, holiday lights, and a hearty load of baking bring increased usage on multiple fronts. Proper insulation and air sealing, including properly weather stripping door thresholds and windows, is the number one way to bring down your heating bills. If you have historic windows, consider using Indow® Window inserts to provide an aesthetically pleasing thermal barrier.

LED lights and smart strips will help reduce your increased lighting baseload. If the Empire State Building can rock them, so can you!

Kitchen Appliance Efficiency

In the kitchen last month, we learned the importance of clean refrigerator coils and a properly sealed door. Before you get busy baking your holiday treats, make sure your oven door seals completely too, especially if you have an older oven. Check the gasket for cracks and replace it if it is worn or damaged. If the door is not completely closing, adjust the alignment. On the stovetop, keep your small pots and pans on small burners, and keep lids on pots to reduce the amount of fuel it takes to heat your culinary creations. And don’t forget to unplug your unused appliances!

Like rolling a perfect pie crust, changing energy usage habits takes practice! Remind yourself and family members to help make the changes you have easily in your control. Happy Holidays!

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Energy Alliance Leads Nation in Energy Financing

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance Wins 2012 CDFA Excellence in Energy Finance Award

CINCINNATI, OHIO – August 2, 2012 – The Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) awarded the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance the 2012 Excellence in Energy Finance Award.  The Energy Alliance will formally accept the award this evening in Washington, D.C. at the CDFA National Development Finance Summit.

The Energy Alliance, in partnership with the Cincinnati Development Fund, Inc. received the excellence award for its commercial Building Performance Program, which helps building owners in the Greater Cincinnati area identify ways to make their facilities more energy efficient.

The Energy Alliance utilizes public and private investments to offer market rate financing to program participants that wish to upgrade their building facilities with energy efficiency measures.  Participants can qualify for loans between $100,000 and $1 million with competitive interest rates.

“Using our financing model, a program participant could take an energy efficiency loan for $125,000.  Combine it with an incentive from the utility company, and the estimated payback can be 4 years or less.  In fact, a monthly loan payment could be lower than their utility bill savings,” reflected Andy Holzhauser, Executive Director of the Energy Alliance.

Holzhauser explained that the finance model is attractive to private investors because it offers a low-risk entry into this emerging market.

“Our innovative community partnership with CDF gives us access to a huge pool of commercial buildings in the Cincinnati community – buildings that could see a drastic reduction in their monthly utility and operating costs if they were to install efficient equipment,” said Holzhauser.

For more details about the Building Performance Program visit

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Commercial Energy Efficiency Loan Fund

Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance partners with the Cincinnati Development Fund to leverage Multi-Million Dollar Investment in Energy Efficiency Lending

CINCINNATI, OHIO – June 1, 2012 – Business owners and nonprofit organizations in the Greater Cincinnati region that would like to make their buildings more energy efficient will be able to access a unique loan program thanks to a partnership created by the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (Energy Alliance) and the Cincinnati Development Fund (CDF).

The investment, which was announced today, will allow qualified business owners, multifamily building owners and nonprofit organizations access to loans to implement energy efficiency upgrades through the Energy Alliance’s Building Performance Program. Typical building owners will see a reduction in utility cost and enhanced comfort, when making improvements such as new heating and cooling equipment, windows and air sealing and insulation.

The Energy Alliance is partnering with CDF, a local nonprofit lending institution, and the Calvert Foundation, a national financial intermediary, to leverage a $3 million investment to create the Better Buildings Performance Loan Fund.  The Loan Fund is the first of a series of investments that leverages the Energy Alliance’s commitment of $5 million in capital from the U.S. Department of Energy Better Building Neighborhood Program (BBNP) to drive investment capital into the greater Cincinnati region.  This investment marks the first time that the Calvert Foundation has invested in the Cincinnati community.

The intent of this loan fund is two-fold, according to Energy Alliance Executive Director Andy Holzhauser:

  • It will provide additional capital for commercial, multifamily and nonprofit building owners looking to invest in energy saving opportunities in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region.
  • The Energy Alliance’s commercial program will verify the performance of the installed measures over the life of investment.  Collected and verified data will allow community development financing groups and traditional lenders to enter the emerging market of energy efficiency financing at a relatively low risk.

“This is a valuable first step to creating a national model for a new funding solution for energy efficiency upgrades,” Holzhauser said.

In tradition with their socially responsible lending, The Calvert Foundation announced an initial $3 million investment in the local loan fund.  The Energy Alliance, a recipient of a BBNP grant, is providing capital for a loan loss reserve fund allowing loans to be offered at competitive interest rates for qualified borrowers.  The Cincinnati Development Fund, Inc. will serve as the lending institution.

The partnership was a good fit for each of the three organizations.

“Investing in energy efficiency lowers energy costs for a developer or building owner and puts more money back in their control to invest in additional housing and multi-family projects,” said Jeanne Golliher, President and CEO of  Cincinnati Development Fund, Inc.

She added that the CDF feels strongly that any building loan should have energy efficiency improvements included in the project to create more sustainable cities and communities.

Catherine Godschalk, Director of U.S. Investments at the Calvert Foundation, based in Bethesda, Md., said that the organization believes the investment will help local business owners finance improvements that will ultimately reduce pollutants, conserve energy and lead to cost savings.

“Calvert Foundation is excited about this new investment and its leverage of the Department of Energy grant dollars for broader impact in communities.  This was an innovative approach for us, but still within a larger context of portfolio investments in green solutions,” she said.

Holzhauser added: “The Energy Alliance’s mission is to drive investments in energy efficiency throughout the greater Cincinnati community. By partnering with national and local partners to attract capital into this market and prove that energy efficiency investments work; for both lenders and building owners, we feel that this program will be a step towards achieving this goal.” 

To qualify for the Better Buildings Performance Loan Fund, nonprofit, multifamily and commercial building owners must be within the Energy Alliance service territory and apply for the Energy Alliance program. The Energy Alliance is a non-profit organization that provides financial support, technical assistance and project management support to help local businesses and nonprofit organizations make high quality energy efficiency investments.

For more information on the loan program or to begin the process for energy efficiency upgrades, go to

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities reduce their energy costs. The Energy Alliance provides education, expertise and innovative financing to help the region to become more energy efficient, saving money for residents while also creating local jobs. Visit

The Cincinnati Development Fund is a non-profit lending institution established in 1988 to finance affordable housing development and community revitalization in the Greater Cincinnati Area. CDF fills a critical niche that is not sought after by traditional lenders, such as small projects, new developers, and complex financing structures. The primary business of the organization is to underwrite and service community development real estate loans that result in the creation or preservation of affordable housing, or revitalization of urban communities.  Visit

The Calvert Foundation maximizes the flow of capital to disadvantaged communities in order to create a more equitable and sustainable society. By creating innovative financial products and services, they have made it possible for everyday people, not just institutions, to participate in financial instruments that directly serve communities.  The Calvert Foundation has nearly $200 million invested in 250 community organizations in all 50 states and over 100 countries.  Visit

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Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance Wins Award

Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance to be awarded Non-Profit of the Year by Green Energy Ohio

CINCINNATI,  OHIO – May 3, 2012 – The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance will be awarded the Non-Profit of the Year by Green Energy Ohio at the organization’s 12th Annual Meeting. The Energy Alliance received the award for outstanding facilitation of investments in energy efficiency for homeowners, non-profit organizations and commercial building owners through outreach, education, project management and financing solutions.

Awarded one of twenty-five federal Better Buildings Neighborhood grants, the Energy Alliance has been able to expand its offerings to homeowners and non-profits in the Greater Cincinnati area. With the $17 million Department of Energy grant the organization has also developed programs to help commercial and multi-family buildings reduce their energy waste.

The Energy Alliance will be one of eleven recipients of GEO awards for 2011 achievements. The Green Energy Ohio (GEO) is a nonprofit organization that promotes economically and environmentally sustainable energy policies and practices in Ohio. The organization conducts outreach on all forms of renewable energy, serves as the Ohio American Solar Energy Society Chapter and provides a statewide residential solar thermal rebate.

In addition to the Annual Meeting and awards recognition, there will be a luncheon, trade show, review of the 2011 Annual Report and featured speakers.

What: Green Energy Ohio Non-Profit of the Year Award

When: Saturday, May 5, 2012, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Where: Mound Advanced Technology Center, 480 Vantage Point, Miamisburg, OH 45342

Who: Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, Green Energy Ohio and additional award recipients

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Low interest loan to help residents make energy upgrades

Local loan program gets $500,000 boost from The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

CINCINNATI – March 29, 2012 – The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (Energy Alliance) announced today that The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) will invest $500,000 into a local loan program that helps residents make energy upgrades to their homes, typically saving residents 20 percent or more on their annual energy bills.

This “impact investment,” a type of loan made with charitable funds, is being made to the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance’s loan program, which provides unsecured loans of up to $20,000 at a fixed interest rate of 6.99 percent to qualified residents to make their homes more energy efficient.  In addition, homeowners who use the loan program can save up to 35 percent on the total cost of the upgrades.  That means $10,000 in upgrades to such things as windows, doors, insulation and/or heating and cooling systems would only cost a homeowner $6,500.

“This is really a win-win for everyone,’’ said Andy Holzhauser, Executive Director of the Energy Alliance. “This contribution is helping us achieve our goals in creating a sustainable loan fund, and helps us potentially attract more national funding that will cut down the cost for future investors. “And all the while, we are able to provide homeowners real savings to improve their homes, lower their utility costs and create jobs for local contractors, which is making a real and continued investment in our local economy.’’

That is exactly why The Greater Cincinnati Foundation made an impact investment in GCEA, said Robert Killins, GCF’s Program Director of Vibrant Places.  The Foundation has made several grants to support the start-up operation of the Energy Alliance since 2009, including $250,000 in grants to conduct energy assessments and retrofits for nonprofit organizations. To date, the Energy Alliance has leveraged approximately $20 million dollars in public and private capital to facilitate energy efficiency for homeowners, nonprofit organizations and commercial building owners.

“Impact investments use charitable assets to support projects that can generate revenue and financial returns as well as direct community benefits,” he said. “They help make an even greater difference in multiple ways right here where we live.”

The goal of the nonprofit Energy Alliance is to create a $10 million pooled loan fund, seeded with $2.5 million of a $17 million U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings grant, and raising $7.5 million in private capital to sustain the loan program. A sustainable loan fund will generate the following benefits:

  • GC-HELP is a low-cost, fixed rate, unsecured loan for up to 10 years is made available to qualified homeowners in Hamilton County in Ohio and Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties in Northern Kentucky for both emergency and proactive energy improvements. There are no application fees. Comparable unsecured loans are offered at 15 percent, while many unsecured credit cards have rates over 20 percent.
  • Contractors can offer an attractive financing plan to help their customers make energy improvements in their homes, generating more business for the region’s contractors.
  • Lenders can participate in an attractive investment opportunity that allows them to invest in a new market, reach new consumers and deploy their capital with significantly mitigated risk.

Homeowners and contractors can apply online at

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities reduce their energy costs. The Energy Alliance provides education, expertise and innovative financing to help the region to become more energy efficient, saving money for residents while also creating local jobs. Visit

The Greater Cincinnati Foundationhelps people make the most of their giving to build a better community. We believe in the power of philanthropy to change the lives of people and communities. As a community foundation, GCF creates a prosperous Greater Cincinnati by investing in thriving people and vibrant places. An effective steward of the community’s charitable resources since 1963, the Foundation inspires philanthropy in eight counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Visit

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Forest Park homeowners can save 50 percent on energy upgrades

City and local non-profit team up again to reinstate popular efficiency program

FOREST PARKMarch 14, 2012 – The City of Forest Park announced today it is bringing back a popular program that offers all local residents a 50 percent discount to make home energy improvements.

The city is partnering with the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance to provide homeowners a full home energy assessment and access to financial incentives, which can mean a savings of more than $1,000 a year on utility bills.

The Forest Park Residential Energy Efficiency Program was launched last year, during which time 50 homes received energy efficiency upgrades. On average, those improvements saved homeowners about $550 a year on utility bills ― with some enjoying a savings of over $1,000. Forest Park is contributing $20,000 to continue to fund the program this year.

“Investing in your home provides immediate savings, while improving the comfort and value of your home,” said Andy Holzhauser, Executive Director of the Energy Alliance.

The partnership provides everything a resident needs to complete energy improvements including:

  • A certified three-to-four-hour home energy assessment for $50 dollars ($400 value).
  • Trained and certified contractors who will provide comprehensive home energy assessments and improvements.
  • A complete project plan that includes cost-effective energy saving opportunities, including available incentives and financing options.
  • A 50 percent savings on the cost for projects up to $12,000 (Forest Park’s additional 15 percent incentive can only be used for air sealing and insulation measures).
  • GC-HELP low-interest 6.99 percent unsecured loan.
  • Quality assurance to verify the installed upgrades.

City leaders are advising residents to register for the program early this year at The city of Forest Park and the Energy Alliance will host a special open house for residents to learn more about the program and talk with certified contractors. The open house is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 10 at the Forest Park Senior Center, 11555 Winton Road. Anyone with questions can call 513-595-5263.

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities reduce their energy costs. The Energy Alliance provides education, expertise and innovative financing to help the region to become more energy efficient, saving money for residents while also creating local jobs. Visit

The Forest Park Residential Energy Efficiency Program is a project of the Forest Park Environmental Awareness Program, which is a department under the city of Forest Park.  The Environmental Awareness Program is committed to fostering a spirit of cooperation and shared responsibility among citizens, businesses, institutions, and governmental agencies towards the enhancement of local, regional, and global environmental quality. Visit

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2012 Green Business Award

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance Awarded 2012 Green Business Award for Education/Outreach – Nonprofit

CINCINNATI – March 21, 2012 – The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance was the recipient of the 2012 USGBC/Business Courier Green Business Award for Education/Outreach – Nonprofit at an evening reception held at Xavier University’s Cintas Center, March 20, 2012. The Energy Alliance was also awarded a Finalist Green Business Award in the Market Strategy – Nonprofit.

The nonprofit is on a mission to help area communities reduce their energy usage. Launched in 2010, the community outreach program provided education, expertise and innovative financing options for communities in the Greater Cincinnati area to improve the efficiency of their homes, businesses and nonprofits.

The goal of the community outreach program was to drive the demand for energy efficiency in a personal way. The Energy Alliance accomplished this by reaching out to homeowners directly through community engagement and neighborhood canvassing. Since the launch of the program, the Energy Alliance has reached more than 5,100 residents via events and canvasses and more than 6,000 unique visitors through online outreach. It has received more than 1,400 home energy assessment requests leading to 650 completed home energy upgrades.

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities reduce their energy costs. The Energy Alliance provides education, expertise and innovative financing to help the region to become more energy efficient, saving money for residents while also creating local jobs. Visit

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