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October 25, 2012
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Vail Daily Bizwatch: Energy Smart Colorado

Business name: The Energy Smart Colorado Eagle County Energy Resource Center.

Location: Miller Ranch Community Center, Edwards.

Date opened: February 2010.

Owner: Eagle County Government with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and partners with the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability. We also have partner centers in Pitkin and in Gunnison County.

Contact info: Go to www.EnergySmartColorado.com or call 970-328-8777.

What goods or services do you provide? Our goal is to make home energy improvements simple and affordable. We provide a broad spectrum of home energy consulting services for single-family homeowners, duplexes, townhomes, and multi-family apartments, too. We are your local nonprofit source for information about rebates and incentives from utility companies with whom we partner, such as Holy Cross Electric and Source Gas.

We can arrange for a very cost-effective ($50 cost for a $500 value) home energy assessment provided by local independent third-party energy experts. They will examine your home for safety issues (investigate potential gas leaks or faulty appliances) and for energy savings measures. They will complete a total review of your residence and provide you with a comprehensive report which gives you suggestions to make your home more affordable and more comfortable.

Also, we cannot stress how important the safety inspection is. As it gets cold and you turn on your furnace or boiler, you want to be sure that they are not spilling any harmful byproducts into your family's home. We have found problems and homeowners are always relieved that we were able to have these items fixed.

What's new or exciting at your place? We have made it easier than ever to qualify for the $500 Energy Smart rebate. The money is going fast so it's time to take advantage. Coupled with the rebates, we have teamed up with Energy Smart Partners, a nonprofit lender from Fort Collins, which has very simple and affordable low-interest loans now available for property owners who want to complete upgrades but don't have the cash in hand. Their typical home-improvement loans are around $8,000-$12,000 for projects that will make a big difference in comfort and economy but are just out of reach for typical valley residents to pay with cash.

What strategy do you use to differentiate your business from your competition? Prior to opening the ERC, there was no "one-stop-shop" for homeowners and residents who were interested in saving money on their bills or were concerned about decreasing their home's impact on the environment. As of today, we have had more than 600 single-family homes and more than 1,000 multi-family units participate in our program. We are providing a community resource that can keep cash in people's pockets and get work for contractors.

What philosophy do you follow in dealing with your customers? What can your customers expect from you? We are a community resource available for all residents of Eagle County. Our primary mission is three-fold: Provide access to information for homeowners and contractors, provide access to financing for projects, and provide access to a skilled workforce and jobs.

Tell us a little about your background, education and experience: We are all certified building analysts and have completed extensive training in building science courses. "Building science" is somewhat of an emerging field in the U.S. but in Europe, where energy costs are much higher, building techniques have been studied for maximum energy efficiency, for safety, and for durability and longevity. Building science in the U.S. mirrors that effort and we are the source for information on the most up-to-date information for homeowners and building industry professionals.

What is the most humorous thing that has happened at your business since you opened? One of the best events that we've had so far was at the Teva Mountain Games. We partnered with Hardscrabble Trails Coalition and set up a bike and a watt meter. Participants were encouraged to get on the bike and see how many watts they could crank out by pedaling the fastest. There are, obviously, a ton of elite athletes at the games and the competition turned out to be pretty fierce!

We had one local woman, who shall remain anonymous, who checked in at our tent every hour or so just to make sure that she was still at the top of the list. As it ended up, she came in a very close second to a nice lady from the Front Range. I expect she'll be back next year. See you then, Kelly!


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The VailDaily Updated Oct 25, 2012 10:09PM Published Oct 25, 2012 10:06PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.