As the promise of winter fills the valley, we're reminded of its signs all around: frosty mornings, a dusting of snow, and the sun rising a bit later every day.
We're also reminded of this seasonal change in that even the stingiest among us has given in and turned on the heat. If you're like me, this annual ritual manifests into some home efficiency projects - whether it's just doing some weather stripping and caulking around some doors and windows, adding insulation, or replacing the old leaky boiler with an uber-efficient new one.
The good news is that there's never been a better time to complete those improvements and reclaim those cold, uncomfortable spaces in your home you typically surrender to Old Man Winter until spring.
Residents in Eagle County can now couple rebates from Holy Cross Energy, Source Gas, Xcel Energy and Energy Smart Colorado with simple low-interest financing to improve their home's comfort, safety and efficiency this winter.
Eligible projects include furnaces, boilers, water heaters, insulation and air sealing, window replacements, lighting, pellet stoves, solar hot water and photovoltaic systems.
Here's an example: Let's say you're putting in a $1,000 attic insulation job. Since typically 30 percent of heat loss goes through the roof, this will make a big difference not only in comfort and efficiency, but will also help prevent ice damming this winter.
Claim 30 percent up to $300 rebate from Holy Cross Energy or Source Gas (depending on your heat source).
Claim 50 percent of the remaining cost up to $500 rebate from Energy Smart Colorado. Per this example, 50 percent of the remaining $700 cost would be $350.
This leaves a final cost of $350. Depending on the home, this investment would typically pay for itself in one to two years in reduced heating costs.
Do-it-yourselfers out there can claim these similar rebates for the material costs associated with eligible home energy improvement projects.
Need to replace that old gas-guzzling furnace that wakes you up at night and makes the laundry room smell like a '72 Camaro exhaust pipe, but don't have a bunch of cash laying around? You can combine rebates with a simple Energy Smart Loan to get 'er done.
With good credit, you can qualify for as low as a 3.75 percent APR loan to pay for the new quiet super-efficient direct-vented furnace that not only won't wake you up at night, but virtually eliminates potential for back-drafting carbon monoxide into the home and partially offsets loan payments with energy cost savings.
Those interested in not only improving the efficiency of their home, but also putting in a solar PV system can also now finance the cost through an Energy Smart Loan as long as they've completed efficiency improvements that save at least 15 percent of home energy costs first.
By combining Holy Cross rebates with the 30 percent IRS tax credit and continuing lower cost of solar equipment, we're seeing simple returns on investment in the six- to eight-year range. Even five years ago, this kind of payback was unheard of.
Rebates are limited and are on a first-come, first-served basis, so now's the time to make your home safer, more comfortable, improve resale value and start saving money.
The first step is to sign up for an Energy Smart assessment, in which a certified energy analyst will identify improvements that make the most sense for you and your home and install some quick-fix energy-saving items in the process.
For more information, call the Energy Smart Resource Center at 970-328-8777 or visit energysmartcolorado.com.
Adam Palmer is the environmental policy planner for Eagle County and a director at Holy Cross Energy. He can be reached at 970-328-8734 or firstname.lastname@example.org.