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Homeowners can save big with upgrades

JULIE SUTOR
summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – Act fast.

That’s the message from the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office for those hoping to take advantage of cash rebates for energy-saving home upgrades.

Beginning 8 a.m., April 19, Colorado residents can reserve energy rebates online or over the phone, as part of the state’s Recharge Colorado campaign. The Energy Office and its local partners expect a huge response for the limited number of available rebates.

“It’s an incredible new push for energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Lynne Westerfield of the High Country Conservation Center in Frisco. “There’s a lot of money coming available in a short period of time. There hasn’t been anything on this scale up to this point.”

Through Recharge Colorado, the Governor’s Energy Office, utility companies, cities, towns and counties across Colorado are partnering to offer $18 million in rebates and other programs to improve home-energy performance. The money is expected to provide about 75,000 rebates, including 16,000 rebates for Energy Star refrigerators, dishwashers and clothes washers.

Summit County government will provide matching funds for many of the state rebates, and High Country Conservation Center plans to offer customized assistance for residents working to navigate through all the available programs.

“Summit County has done a great job of ensuring rebates are available to local residents,” Conservation Center energy program manager Jon Kinstad said. “We’re here to help make sure they get them.”

Residents can receive rebates for a wide range of upgrades, including replacement of major appliances; home improvements like new furnaces, water heaters and insulation; and installation of small-scale renewable systems like wind and solar power.

“We want citizens to plug in to our Recharge Colorado campaign and learn what they can do to save money and create jobs,” Energy Office director Tom Plant said. “This comprehensive resource will give Colorado residents the opportunity to participate in energy conservation in a way no other state can currently offer.”

The Recharge Colorado website is a one-stop database that lets a consumer know about all the state and local tax breaks, rebates and products available in his or her area. The site offers personalized energy planning tools, the latest information on rebates, the simplest and most cost-effective ways to weatherproof a home, and information on new energy innovations. The Recharge Colorado campaign is also teaming with the Better Business Bureau to help consumers connect with energy-efficiency and renewable-energy service providers.

Many state and local energy-upgrade incentives and rebates require a home energy audit performed by an energy auditor certified by the Building Performance Institute or the Residential Energy Services Network. Rebates are available from utility companies, state programs and local governments to help pay for the audits.

Among the local programs to become available this spring is Summit County government’s “Help! Summit” home-energy loan program. Help! Summit is a countywide revolving loan program that will help homeowners pay for energy-efficiency improvements recommended in a home-energy audit. The Town of Breckenridge will also provide funding, and the town will also cover renewable-energy systems under its program. The loans will range from $5,000 to $10,000, but officials will consider projects outside that cost range on a case-by-case basis. Borrowers will repay the loans through their property tax bills over a 10-year term at an interest rate of 3 percent.

High Country Conservation Center will help administer the Help! Summit program.

Xcel Energy, which serves Summit County, offers a wide range of energy-improvement programs, including refrigerator recycling and rebates for energy audits, light bulbs, insulation installation and water heaters. Anyone who purchases natural gas or electricity or both from Xcel can participate in some way.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or jsutor@summitdaily.com.


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