LEAP, weatherization help lower heating bills | SummitDaily.com

LEAP, weatherization help lower heating bills

Summit County, CO Colorado

DENVER ” February 2009 ” Since the beginning of the LEAP season on Nov. 1, 2008, more than 62,000 hard-working Colorado families have received assistance paying their home heating bills from the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP). However, LEAP is not the only way for Colorado families to save money while keeping their homes safe and warm this winter.

Through Energy $aving Partners (E$P), a weatherization program from the Governor’s Energy Office, many Colorado residents are able to permanently reduce their utility expenses by using the program’s comprehensive energy efficiency services.

“Most people would be surprised how much energy is wasted due to old appliances and leaks in their home,” said Colorado LEAP director Todd Jorgensen. “By making a few household upgrades, families will use less heat and electricity, significantly reducing the amount they spend on their utility bill. If families cannot afford to make these changes, LEAP and E$P are available to help. “

Those who qualify for E$P will receive a free home energy kit as well as a home energy audit. The free kit includes six energy-saving light bulbs, one water-efficient showerhead and information on additional ways to lower utility bills. The free audit is performed by a certified energy auditor who travels to a family’s home and assess areas where they can save both energy and their hard earned money. The auditor will also determine whether or not a family qualifies for further E$P services like insulation and appliance replacement.

To qualify for E$P a family must first apply for LEAP. Applicants must provide a copy of valid identification and a completed affidavit indicating that they are lawfully present in the United States with their application to the program. Applicants must also be responsible for paying heating costs, either to a utility company, or to a landlord as part of rent. Those who are approved for LEAP will be automatically approved for E$P.

LEAP provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay winter home heating costs. The program pays the highest benefits to those with the highest heating bills and lowest incomes by family size. Applicant income cannot exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty index, which equals a maximum income of $3,269.00 per month before taxes for a household of four people. The anticipated average LEAP benefit for 2008-2009 is approximately $430.00 per family.

The Governor’s Energy Office lists the following as common factors that can contribute to wasted energy and that may be uncovered during an energy audit:

While conventional gas and electric fueled tank water heaters are commonplace, they also have a tendency to lose energy through standby heat loss. This means that water is constantly being heated in the tank even when a hot water tap isn’t running.

Although efficient lighting fixtures are becoming more common, most homes and commercial buildings still use incandescent lighting. These bulbs

burn unnecessarily hot with only about 10 percent of the energy they use

actually being turned into visible light.

· Appliances and electronics consume 20 to 25 percent of the energy used

in a home. The problem is that some of this equipment draws energy even when

powered off called a “phantom load.”

· When it’s cold outside, homes lose heat because it naturally flows

from warmer to cooler areas until the temperature equalizes. In a leaky

home, heating and cooling systems will be constantly battling to keep the

air at a constant temperature.

· Insufficient insulation is one of the leading causes of energy waste

in buildings. A building should be insulated from top to bottom: the

foundation, the floors, exterior walls, the HVAC system and especially the


In addition to recognizing these problems, auditors are will offer solutions

to curb the energy waste. Some of these solutions for those who qualify are

the replacement of appliances (furnaces, refrigerators and freezers);

insulation in attics and walls; and leakage reduction in walls, windows and


To find out if you qualify for E$P as well as LEAP, call toll-free

1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435). Applications for LEAP are accepted anytime

between Nov. 1 and April 30 of each year. For more information about LEAP,

please call 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) or visit

http://www.cdhs.state.co.us/leap/index.htm to view the most current program

application requirements.

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