CARE delivers home energy savings, comfort to 35 families | PostIndependent.com

CARE delivers home energy savings, comfort to 35 families

Allyn Harvey
Clean Energy Economy News

The numbers tell it all.

So far in 2016, 35 homeowners and renters in Garfield County have benefited from CARE (Colorado’s Affordable Residential Energy), an energy efficiency program for income qualified households.

All together, the upgrades are expected to save those 35 households a total of $22,247 per year in energy costs — putting money into the pockets of those who need it most.

Margaret McGhee, a retired Battlement Mesa resident who lives on a fixed income, signed up for a CARE home energy visit after learning about the program.

“It sounded like a good plan,” she said. “I’m a big one for saving energy and helping the environment.”

Participants such as McGhee receive a free home energy visit and whatever energy-saving upgrades their home needs. The improvements include energy efficient LED and CFL light bulbs, programmable thermostats, hot water heater blankets, water pipe insulation, air sealing and insulation. In some cases, residents can receive a new furnace or an Energy Star refrigerator.

“I think it’s one of the most rewarding programs of all the ones we do,” Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said. “It provides bottom-line dollars back to senior citizens and low-income families.”

Jankovsky is a board member for Garfield Clean Energy, which uses funds committed by its members — Garfield County, all six municipalities in the county, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, and Colorado Mountain College — on a range of projects that help make government buildings more energy efficient, support installation of compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations, and help households and businesses be more energy efficient.

weatherization program expands

Now in its second year, the CARE program is proving very successful, helping scores of households and expanding to neighboring counties in northwest Colorado.

In 2014, CLEER and Garfield Clean Energy were looking for a way to help these individuals and families when the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment stepped in with a grant committed to help low-income households.

The program was launched in February 2015 with initial support from Garfield Clean Energy and the town of Carbondale (with funding for Carbondale residents), and later Energy Outreach Colorado which saw it as a way to expand its support for low-income households into rural Colorado.

The four utilities that serve the county — Xcel Energy, Holy Cross Energy, Glenwood Springs Electric and Black Hills Energy (formerly SourceGas) — also responded positively, seeing the program as a way to fulfill their own goals for serving low-income customers.

By year’s end, 148 homeowners and renters had received energy efficiency upgrades of their homes, including everyone living in the 94-unit Rifle Creek Apartments in Rifle.

The program continues this year, and Energy Outreach Colorado has expanded it to six other counties in northwest Colorado based on the success in Garfield County.

Battlement senior benefits

At McGhee’s home in Battlement Mesa, CLEER energy coach Maisa Metcalf visited to determine what upgrades could reduce utility bills and increase comfort. Metcalf installed eight LED and 12 CFL light bulbs, which burn significantly less electricity, and low-flow aerators for two sink faucets, cutting down on the amount of water consumed and electricity needed to provide hot water.

Contractors were lined up to install insulation and air sealing, window repair, a furnace tune-up and a new Energy Star refrigerator.

Rich Backe of Energy Efficiency Solutions weather-sealed the windows and doors and installed insulation in the crawl space. Bob Layman of Woodpecker Workshop repaired her windows so they could be closed tight. And Lowe’s of Glenwood Springs installed a new Energy Star fridge and removed her old fridge.

“I have seen a difference in my energy bills already, and they only did the work a few months ago,” McGhee said.

While McGhee benefited with lower utility bills, the program helps the local economy too.

Funding from CARE is spent with local contractors and vendors whenever possible. The contractors and vendors providing labor, supplies and appliances include Lowe’s, Climate Control, Ajax Mechanical, EnergyWise Consultants, Woodpecker Workshop and Energy Efficiency Solutions.

In Garfield County, there is still plenty of work to do, even though the two-year program has helped 183 households from Carbondale to Parachute. Of the 20,283 households in Garfield County, more than 30 percent qualify for the CARE energy efficiency program.

“For seniors or people with disabilities who don’t have the chance to add more income to their bottom line, this work is a real benefit,” Jankovsky said.


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