EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - If the recent spell of bitter sub-zero temperatures didn't get your attention, the heating bills inextricably linked to it probably will.
That additional expense can add up quickly, leaving many homeowners wondering how to stay comfortable and keep within a household budget. But that "first cost barrier" - the up-front expense of some of the solutions - may be stopping you from acting.
Fortunately there's a new option for homeowners in Eagle County that makes it easy to reduce the cost of heating your home, and - if things work out - can be done at virtually no expense.
Established last fall, It's called Energy Smart Financing, available for homeowners to save money making their homes more energy efficient. The loan can be used to fund air sealing, additional insulation, heating, water heating and more efficient doors and windows
"It's for all the things that can help tighten up a home and make it more efficient and healthy, " said Energy Smart's John Gitchell. "It's really all about saving money."
Many times, it's the accumulation of a number of small improvements that can really improve the efficiency and comfort of a home, said Gitchell. Having an energy assessment will help identify what needs to be done.
This revolving loan program is funded by nearly $1 million, and is available for homeowners who qualify after having a-home energy assessment. Homeowners can borrow as little as $1,000 or up to $15,000 with no down payment, at rates as favorable as 3.85 percent. Like any loan, your credit rating will determine your rate.
"Ideally this will be a no cost improvement for your home," Gitchell said. "You can make your loan payment with the money you save in energy expense. " Funding Partners, a financing nonprofit organization-of Fort Collins, administers the loans.
"They manage the fund and transaction," said Gitchell. "For homeowners who qualify, they can make the process quick and easy. And, the best part of the program is that once the improvements are made, the savings on energy rare realized year after year.
One recent Energy Smart Financing loan recipient, Ken Sexton, of Eagle, used the loan to purchase and install a photovoltaic solar collector for his home. It cost $19,000, and produces energy enough to power his home. Sexton also took advantage of an $8,250 rebate offered by Holy Cross Energy. Active Energies of Minturn handled installation.
"During the day I can actually see my electric meter go backwards," he said. During summer months when his power demands are low his system will actually add energy to the electric power grid in the area and he'll be credited as an energy producer.
Getting the loan was "pretty easy," Sexton said.
The Energy Smart program includes Eagle, Gunnison and Pitkin counties, and is funded by a $4.9 million U.S. Department of Energy grant. The program provides home energy assessments, rebates, financing for projects, energy saving recommendations and a list of local, trained contractors.
The-EnergySmartColorado.com" target="_blank">class="NormalParagraphStyle">The-EnergySmartColorado.com site has enrollment information and a list of what can be funded through the loan program, as well as other information on how to save energy and money.
In addition to detecting heating leaks, the Home Energy Assessment provides up to two installed programmable thermostats, 10 CFL lights, a free radon test kit, and inspection of your home including testing for gas line leaks and carbon monoxide seeping from furnaces or boilers.
Sign up through the web site, or call the Energy Resource Center to learn more at-970-328-8777.