New Program Seeks to Increase Safety in Champaign’s Garden Hills Community—While Also Making Its Homes More Energy Efficient

An image of the SLEEP billboard that will be featured on Mattis Avenue in Champaign

A safety and energy efficiency program designed to benefit homeowners and single-family renters is coming to Champaign’s Garden Hills community this spring. The Safety, Lighting, Energy Efficiency Program—or SLEEP—is a partnership between the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission (RPC), the City of Champaign, and Ameren Illinois. RPC representatives will be going door-to-door in Garden Hills this coming spring to distribute energy efficiency kits and provide more information for residents about SLEEP.

In addition, residents will have an opportunity to attend workshops where they will learn about simple tips to reduce their energy consumption. Other services that will be available include home energy efficiency upgrades and the installation of safety measures such as window and door locks and video doorbells—all at no cost to Garden Hills residents.

SLEEP is part of the City of Champaign’s goal of building healthy neighborhoods and advancing environmental sustainability. One of the program’s biggest priorities is to utilize environmental design to improve lighting and crime prevention in Garden Hills. Adding lighting, as well as removing hiding places, trimming bushes, and other similar measures, will help reduce opportunities for crime while improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists at night.

“The SLEEP program was designed for the Garden Hills neighborhood in response to public input,” says Jennifer Carlson, Neighborhood Programs Manager with the City of Champaign. “The program is unique as it allows for people to self-assess what they see as a safety need for their home. They can pick and choose from a large menu of options to meet their needs. We are excited to see how this positively impacts the neighborhood.”

As part of its home energy efficiency upgrade services, the RPC will provide home assessments and work with Ameren Illinois Program Allies to address qualifying efficiency measures in 40 to 60 homes in the Garden Hills community this year. The energy efficiency assessments will utilize thermal imaging of homes and blower door tests to determine a home’s airtightness and location of leaks. Potential home energy upgrade measures include air sealing, insulation, ventilation, and installation of energy efficient furnaces, boilers, and air conditioners.

“I am excited to provide this community-based initiative in Garden Hills,” comments RPC Community Services director Lisa Benson. “The program has the potential to reach so many residents. This is what providing community services is all about.”

The RPC will also be conducting four free energy efficiency workshops for Garden Hills residents where complimentary energy efficiency kits will be distributed and residents can sign up for the other services provided through SLEEP. Provided by Ameren Illinois, the kits include LED light bulbs, power strips that do not use any energy when the items plugged into them are not in use, high-performance showerheads that reduce water use by 60%, and faucet aerators that reduce usage by as much as 1,800 gallons of water per faucet each year.

“The goal of our energy efficiency programs is to improve the quality of life for our customers,” said Kristol Simms, Director of Energy Efficiency for Ameren Illinois. “Through initiatives like SLEEP, we are building greater awareness of energy efficiency, helping customers reduce their energy consumption, which will lead to lower utility bills, and investing in the future of the Garden Hills community.”

Other areas SLEEP will focus on include installation of windows to meet emergency escape and rescue code requirements related to window size and sill height, and door and window locks to ensure all locks meet code requirements and provide a greater level of security.

For more information about SLEEP, visit champaignil.gov/GHSLEEP.

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