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.”

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.


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

energy alliance news

Energy Efficiency Market Study

Energy Improvements Can Save Greater Cincinnati $60 Million and Create Over 300 Local Jobs

CINCINNATI, OHIO  – December 2,  2011– Energy efficiency upgrades to the area’s homes and non-profit buildings can save area residents $60 million in lower energy bills and create more than 300 local jobs, according to a study released today by the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance.

The study, conducted by the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, is the first of its kind in the region. Researchers found that routine energy upgrades, such as installing more insulation and reducing drafts, as well as upgrading heating and air conditioning units, will also reduce energy related air pollution.

“My Mom used to say: ‘Close the door, you are letting the heat out.’ That’s what we have here. Our house is our community and we have dollars leaking out,’’ said Jeff Rexhausen, associate director of research at the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center. “The dollars are leaking out because we are spending them on energy. If we saved money on energy, we could spend our money on other things and that would improve our local economy. That’s really what this report is about.’’

Researchers of the study, commissioned by the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, examined energy, building, census, and environmental data for Hamilton, Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties – which are all served by the non-profit group. The Energy Alliance provides low-cost financial incentives for homeowners and non-profit groups to make energy efficiency upgrades. The report, “The Energy Efficiency Market in the Greater Cincinnati Region: Energy Savings Potential and Strategies to Improve Performance of Residential and Non-Profit Buildings,” quantifies the level of economic impact those upgrades can make to the region.

The findings were shared last month with leaders from local governments, businesses, banks and foundations to increase awareness and spur continued partnership with the Energy Alliance.

Researchers found that if 69,000 homeowners and 460 non-profits make energy improvements using the Energy Alliance’s program, they would save $22.2 million in 2020 and $59.6 million in lower energy bills in 2030.  Further, most homeowners would see immediate cash savings in the first year of the energy upgrade and an average savings of $500 a year for 18 years.  

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is one of only 35 organizations in the country to be awarded a grant through the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Neighborhood Program.  The mission of the program is to transform the energy efficiency market.  What that means for The Energy Alliance is investing in technology, workforce development, and financing solutions to dramatically increase both the supply and demand of the market.

To date, the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance has provided expertise and funding to weatherize 325 Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky homes with such improvements.

“We know heating and air-conditioning systems, as well as windows, will be upgraded as usual,’’ said Andy Holzhauser, Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance. “But now we can both drive new work and have a role in the existing market to make sure it’s getting done in a more efficient manner. We now can generate new investment in our economy.”

As homeowners save money on their energy bills, their spending will shift and create the need for jobs in other sectors of the local economy, researchers said.  They calculated that around 317 local jobs would be created in 2030 in the areas of construction and manufacturing as well as in trades and services.  Those jobs would pump an additional $13 million into the local economy.

“Energy efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest, and fastest energy resource available to the Cincinnati region. The Energy Alliance programs are a great deal for home and building owners who take advantage of them, utility customers on the whole, and the economy of the region in general,” said the report’s lead author Eric Mackres, who is a Senior Policy Analyst for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Researchers also projected  that energy upgrades provided through Energy Alliance programs would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 250,000 metric tons, nitrogen oxides by 340 metric tons and sulfur dioxide by 1,640 metric tons in 2030.

“This really has a triple bottom line: We can each make an investment in our homes, and in doing so, we will make an economic investment in our community that has a societal benefit as well as benefits to our earth and the climate,’’ Holzhauser said.

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 University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center,founded in 1977, is a leading provider of economic resources for educators, students, businesses, and public agencies.  Visit

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit