A lack of time or money can deter people from investing in energy efficiency upgrades. Yet in one Colorado region, energy advisers and financial incentives are helping overcome these traditional barriers.
“An energy adviser is like a personal assistant helping you through every step of the way to improve the comfort of your home and improve the bottom line of your business,” said Boulder County Sustainability Coordinator Susie Strife.
As part of the funding from the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the County of Boulder received a $25 million grant to kick start a robust energy efficiency marketplace in Denver, Boulder and Garfield counties.
Denver Energy Challenge: Low in Kilowatts, High in Energy Savings
The Denver Energy Challenge is a residential and commercial energy program with the goal of reducing energy use by 15% in participating homes and businesses by May 2013. The program uses energy efficiency to help residents and businesses save energy and money, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To ensure that whole neighborhoods are involved in saving energy, the city employs energy advisers who serve as a source of free advice to Denver residents on how to make the best energy-saving decisions for their property.
As of April 2012, the Denver Energy Challenge made great strides using energy efficiency:
- Reached over 3,575 homes and over 820 businesses.
- Awarded more than $500,000 in rebates to businesses for energy efficiency upgrades.
- Reduced energy consumption by over 11 million kWh, saving businesses and residents over $1.2 million.
The Denver Energy Challenge aims to reach 6,000 homes and 1,200 businesses by May 2013.
“The [Denver Energy Challenge] program is increasing people’s overall awareness of the value of saving energy – it really is a hidden source of profit and income that people don’t think about for their businesses and homes,” said Sharon Procopio, commercial energy program administrator for the city and county of Denver.
Boulder EnergySmart Program
Born from the original “Two Techs and a Truck” concept, the Boulder EnergySmart Program serves as a one-stop shop for energy efficiency improvements. A free energy adviser takes participating homeowners or landlords through the retrofit process by identifying financial incentives, scheduling contractor work and serving as a Q&A resource until all upgrades are complete. Energy advisers also install quick energy-saving items including light bulbs, water-saving showerheads and insulation to smooth the retrofit process for homeowners.
EnergySmart provides the same services for business and commercial property owners. 40% of business owners who got energy audits implemented the efficiency improvements with 1,500 businesses currently participating – halfway to the final goal of 3,000 businesses.
“BetterBuildings and EnergySmart are really striving to make energy efficiency a social norm – to reduce waste, cut down on costs and create jobs for our local contractors and trades people. The ability to do this with BetterBuildings funds is unprecedented across the country. It will allow for us to really change the nation’s view on energy consumption as well as help spark the green economy,” Strife explained.