Program teaches Detroiters skills for careers in energy efficiency -- how to join academy

A new program is training Detroiters how to conduct energy-efficient home repairs and find careers.

Darius fells is an energy auditor who was recently checking a Detroit home for air leaks.

"The best thing a person can do to prevent those leaks would be air sealing - basically going around the house caulking and doing other air sealing measures to make sure the heat isn't escaping the house," he said.

He's doing this because heat is energy and energy is money, and saving money is key.

"If you have us come out we will fill those air gaps in and for free. Customers can save up to $200 a year on their various utility bills," said Trevor Lauer, with DTE.

Lauer says customers can call for a home energy consultation and their partners at Walker-Miller Energy Services will respond.

"I like to say we change lives through energy efficiency," said Carla Walker-Miller, the CEO of Walker-Miller.

It's not just what they're doing, but who they're training to do it.

"We are honored to be able to recruit train and hire a workforce that reflects the diversity of the communities that we work within," Walker-Miller said.

That training is about to begin again through the Energy Efficiency Academy. It's another way DTE is partnering to get people working in the skilled trades, similar to their tree trimming school. This one is all about training and well-paying jobs in energy efficiency.

"We serve individuals that are from various populations; those folks that are under-represented, under and unemployed, veterans, returning citizens, opportunity youth -- individuals between the ages of 18-24," said Derek Meeking, the director of workforce development at Walker-Miller.

Participants are paid during the eight-week course. They also get daily meals and stipends for transportation and childcare.

"The advantages that this program has given me has been overwhelming," said Marquis Burnett, a home energy consultant. "Something that I never even knew was possible for anybody my age. I'm 19, so me being in this program showed me things is possible."

Burnett said he is grateful he can help people save money.

Sometimes, it's not just money. The home energy consultation has even saved lives by detecting carbon monoxide leaks.

"They literally saved my life because you cannot smell carbon monoxide, and I am so grateful," Geraldine Thompson said.

If you are interested in participating in the Energy Efficiency Academy, contact