High Country Conservation Center gains ground on energy conservation, solar efforts in Summit County
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the unit of energy collected by the solar panels. The program has more than doubled the amount of energy collected from solar panels compared with 2018. That timeframe also has been corrected below.
FRISCO — The High Country Conservation Center conducted 140 energy assessments across the county last year. That and more was presented as part of a quarterly update for the Board of County Commissioners at its regular work session Tuesday.
Energy conservation is among the recycling and resource conservation nonprofit’s primary initiatives. The Energy Smart Colorado home energy assessment program sends a team to visit residents at their homes to test for energy and air leaks, water waste sources and inefficient light fixtures.
Homeowners, who pay a subsidized fee for the service, receive a report that presents a detailed audit of the home’s energy, heat and water efficiency, including an infrared scan of the home to determine areas of heat loss. After the assessment, homeowners receive a report that includes recommendations for upgrades and repairs that will provide the biggest returns on investment.
If a homeowner wants to perform the recommended work, the center also offers rebates for as much as half the cost of the upgrades.
Also last year, the center conducted 37 retrofits on homes, performing upgrades to make them more efficient. So far this year, the Conservation Center has conducted 44 assessments out of a goal of 74 as well as 15 of 37 retrofits.
Climate action director Jess Hoover expects the center will hit both goals by the end of the year and said the average homeowner saved $534 on their utility bills thanks to the retrofits.
The Conservation Center also has a program aimed at businesses called the Resource Wise sustainable business program. It works similar to Energy Smart, with teams conducting an energy and waste assessment at a business and providing recommendations for improvements.
Businesses that pass or exceed Resource Wise requirements for energy and waste efficiency receive recognition for their sustainable practices with a Resource Wise seal of approval that can be displayed to customers. The Resource Wise recognition has rankings of bronze, silver and gold that offer increasing benefits to businesses, including marketing outreach. That is in addition to money saved from performing the recommended upgrades.
The Conservation Center has signed up five businesses this year, and more than 200 Summit businesses already have received some form of recognition from Resource Wise. Those businesses total $12,306 in annual utility savings and 199,503 kilowatt hours in electrical savings, which is enough to power 20 homes for a year.
The presentation also highlighted the success of the Conservation Center’s Solarize Summit program. The program, which started in June in partnership with the Summit County Climate Action Collaborative, uses bulk solar panel purchasing agreements and community purchasing incentives to get homeowners in Summit to install solar panels on their homes.
The Conservation Center had a goal of installing 150 kilowatts worth of solar panels in the county by the end of August for participating homeowners to receive $500 back as a rebate. They surpassed the goal with 41 homeowners participating and 265 kilowatts worth of panels installed this year. The program more than doubled the amount of energy collected from solar panels that were installed in 2018.
The Solarize Summit program ends Aug. 31. To participate or get more information about any of the Conservation Center’s programs, visit HighCountryConservation.org.
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