Garfield Clean Energy offers ‘Four Smart Steps’ for cooling your home |

Garfield Clean Energy offers ‘Four Smart Steps’ for cooling your home

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News
Michelle Foster of Battlement Mesa traded out two small wall-mounted air conditioning units for an evaporative cooling system in 2014. The system cools the whole house, is quiet and costs half as much to operate.
: Kelley Cox for Garfield Clean Energy

If your home feels like a toaster on these hot summer days, Garfield Clean Energy offers a list of affordable upgrades that can deliver cool comfort.

Garfield County residents also can use Garfield Clean Energy’s free energy consulting services to make smart decisions, work with contractors and make the most of rebates.

The statewide RENU loan program for qualifying home energy upgrades, offered through the Colorado Energy Office, can cover the upfront costs.

Some households may also meet the income guidelines for the CARE program, which provides a package of free home energy upgrades that make homes more comfortable in the summer and winter.

“Using our research and direct experience in homes, we developed a fact sheet, ‘Four Smart Steps to a Cool Home,’ that’s available online and as a download,” said Maisa Metcalf, energy consultant for CLEER, which manages the programs and services of Garfield Clean Energy.

“The good news is that Garfield County residents can make upgrades to their homes to maximize cooling, without facing the high costs of installing air conditioning,” Metcalf said.

The “Four Smart Steps” start with insulation and air sealing.

Insulation reduces the flow of heat through a home’s exterior. Air-sealing with caulk and spray foam will seal up air leaks in the home, and weather stripping will make windows and doors close tightly.

Together, air sealing and insulation provide the most cost-effective first step for making a home stay cool, and deliver benefits year-round.

Fans are the second step.

“We recommend installing a whole house fan in the attic,” Metcalf said. “These fans do a masterful job of pulling in cool nighttime air in through open windows and exhausting the day’s hot, stuffy air out through vents in the attic and roof.

“In much of western Colorado, where nighttime temps fall below 65 degrees, a whole house fan operating can keep a well-insulated home cool even through the hottest days,” she said.

A whole house fan should be installed by an experienced professional. These large fans require dedicated circuit wiring, may need additional attic vents, and the system must be set up so the fan opening can be closed off during the winter months.

The third step is getting rid of any remaining incandescent light bulbs, which release 90 percent of their energy as heat. Swap them out for cool, energy-saving LED light bulbs to get energy efficient light without excess heat.

If these three steps don’t do the job, look for an energy efficient cooling system.

“Evaporative cooling systems are is the most affordable and energy efficient option in Colorado’s dry climate,” Metcalf said. They use less than one-third the energy of air conditioners, cost about half as much to install, and can drop indoor temps by as much as 30 degrees.

As with the whole house fan, installing evaporative cooling system is a job for an experienced professional.

Residents with older evaporative cooling or air conditioning systems also may benefit by upgrading to a new, high-efficiency evaporative cooling unit. Some utilities offer added rebates for switching from air conditioning to evaporative cooling.

Learn more about these four practical steps to achieving a cooler home by visiting or call CLEER at 704-9200.

The Garfield Clean Energy website also offers information and links for applying for the RENU loan program for home upgrades. It offers loans of $500 to $35,000 at competitive interest rates for terms of three to 15 years.

County residents with limited incomes should also visit the Garfield Clean Energy website or call CLEER to see if they qualify for the CARE program. CARE provides a free home visit from a CLEER energy coach, and if needed, the coach will make arrangements for more free upgrades to be done by a contractor, including insulation, air sealing, windows and doors.

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