Summer is over. Labor Day officially marks the end of the season, regardless of the equinox. One month from now our aspen trees will be bare. In less than two months we will incur our first substantial snowstorm. For mountain folks, we have precious little time left before winter. Now is the time to get serious about preparing for the seasons ahead.
For those who are already energy efficient, congratulations. Gather and cut wood for your high-efficiency wood stove, dust off the wool blankets, and enjoy hiking in the aspens when they turn. For the rest of us, we need to act now on our weatherization and home repairs. By the time we feel the chill, the contractors are already overbooked.
First, call for help. For Boulder County residents, our first call may be to EnergySmart at 303-544-1000 (Gilpinites see LPEC below). Their helpful advisory services are free. For a fee of $135, we can acquire a Home Energy Assessment that will show us what the priorities need to be based on heat loss areas specific to our homes.
This assessment service is available to both owners and renters. An adviser centralizes all communications and processes, including assisting with applications for financing or applicable rebates. For weatherization assistance, the Colorado Energy Office Heat Helpline in Denver, 1-866-432-8435, directs callers to a regional energy office, which for Boulder, Gilpin, Larimer, and Broomfield counties is Longs Peak Energy Conservation (LPEC) at 720-864-6401.
Second, apply for financial assistance if this is appropriate. Various programs are available:
1) For low income residents, a significant amount of weatherization is offered absolutely free. LPEC determines what will be a cost-effective upgrade to the home and provides the materials and labor from their own workforce. Qualifying annual income levels are $22,900 for household of one, $31,000 for two, $39,060 for three and $47,100 for four.
2) For those in Boulder County a little above this low income level, LPEC also offers another level of assistance, in which the owner/tenant pays 50 percent of approved weatherization costs as reviewed and performed by LPEC. Qualifying annual income levels for this program are $45,100 for one, $51,550 for two, $58,000 for three and $64,400 for four.
3) For all Boulder County residents (and a separate program is available for businesses), special low-interest financing for a wide variety of energy improvement projects is available through EnergySmart and Elevations Credit Union. Interest rates start as low as 2.75 percent with only a $25 fee. In addition to lending for efficiency weatherization, loans may be provided for projects including window replacement, subject to certain requirements shown on their website at elevationscu.com/energyloans/home-loans.
Third, acquire bids to get the work done. For those working with EnergySmart for any rebates or assistance, it is important to use qualifying contractors and consult with your advisor there to ensure all is done to their specifications so they can assist with any rebates or financing available.
Some rebates are available directly from Xcel Energy and United Power for their customers. EnergySmart advisers can help interpret the best ways to maximize this for Boulder County residents. Xcel offers a 60 percent rebate on an energy audit performed by a contractor on their list, 20 percent of the total cost of insulation and installation up to a maximum rebate of $300, and $120 on high efficiency gas furnaces or up to $1,000 for high efficiency air conditioning or evaporative cooling systems installed in 2013 only. To learn more about utility offers, check their website or call the number on your bill.
For low income residents throughout the State, the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) accepts applications beginning Nov. 1 for help with heating costs through April 30. Qualifying income levels are $1,397 per month for a household of one, $1,892 for two, $2,387 for three and $2,882 for four. After Nov. 1, pick up an application from Boulder County (some will be available at the Community Center in Nederland) or call the LEAP office at 303-678-6097. For low-income help with heating equipment repair crises, contact the Heat Helpline at 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435).
Everyone is invited to the Nederland Area Seniors luncheon at the Nederland Community Center at noon. A donation of $4 is requested from those over 60 years of age and $8.25 all others, but no seniors are turned away due to inability to pay. Please make reservations by 4 p.m. Friday for Monday lunch and 4 p.m. Monday for Wednesday lunch at 303-258-0799.
Monday, Sept. 9, Oven Fried Chicken, Mixed Vegetables, Roll/Sweet Potato, Cranberry/ Apple.
Wednesday, Sept. 11, Ham/Cheese Omlette, Zucchini, Potatoes O’Brien/Cinnamon Roll, Plums.