Fall is prime time for making your home more energy-efficient | PostIndependent.com

Fall is prime time for making your home more energy-efficient

Dave Reed
Clean Energy Economy for the Region
Trish O’Grady of Rifle says her home is cozier and her utility bills are lower, thanks to energy efficiency upgrades she had done through the CARE program. She received a new Energy Star refrigerator, three new windows, a furnace tune-up, attic and crawl space insulation, air sealing, LED light bulbs and a water heater blanket.
Kelley Cox for Garfield Clean Energy

Ah fall, when a homeowner’s fancy turns to thoughts of winter heating bills. But with a few tweaks and upgrades — aided by some helpful local energy-efficiency programs and rebates — you can likely reduce those bills and make your home cozier in the process.

The average U.S. home spends $2,200 annually on energy. Much of that energy is lost through leaky windows and ducts, old appliances, or inefficient heating and lighting. Plugging those energy leaks is a one-time investment that pays returns for years to come.

If you’re a Garfield County resident, start your home energy makeover by going to the Garfield Clean Energy website (garfieldcleanenergy.org) and sign up for a free energy coaching session.

Garfield Clean Energy has helped over 1,200 families from Parachute to Carbondale reduce their utility bills by up 25 percent, which equates to savings of over $500 a year based on the U.S. average. GCE’s energy coaches can set you up with a home energy assessment, suggest the most cost-effective actions, help you tap into utility rebates and financing, and connect you with qualified contractors.

(GCE contracts the Carbondale-based nonprofit CLEER — Clean Energy Economy for the Region — to provide its coaching services and other programs.)

Some upgrades are spectacularly worth doing. For example, if you’ve still got some old incandescent lightbulbs, new LEDs will pay for themselves in less than a year — and GCE will probably give you a few for free. Installing a programmable thermostat will achieve similar savings. In many homes, weatherizing leaky windows and doors, sealing ducts and tuning up the heating system are no-brainers. In some cases, bigger jobs like adding insulation or switching to an efficient new boiler will be good investments.

The home assessment and coaching services are free, thanks to GCE’s funding partners who recognize that helping people and communities save money on energy is a form of economic development.

Our local utilities are also quite enlightened when it comes to encouraging energy efficiency. Customers of Xcel Energy, Holy Cross Energy, Black Hills Energy and Glenwood Springs Electric can access rebates to cover up to 50% of project costs.

Think you still can’t afford it? Ask about the CARE (Colorado’s Affordable Residential Energy) program. For homeowners and renters who make less than 80 percent of the area median income in their county, CARE will cover the full cost of improvements.

With winter on the way, now is the time to upgrade your home and enjoy lower bills and greater comfort. Our energy coaches are always happy and available to talk about how you can improve comfort and save money on your energy bills this winter season.

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