Ask Waste Watchers: Home improvements can save a lot in energy costs |

Ask Waste Watchers: Home improvements can save a lot in energy costs

Joseph Walls
Daily Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

I would like to reduce my utility bills by improving the energy efficiency of my home but am not exactly sure where to start. Do you have any suggestions?

Bill in El Jebel

Thanks for the great question, Bill.

Home energy improvements are a great investment that could save you 5 percent to 30 percent on your utility bills.

However, deciding which of these improvements would most benefit your home can be difficult. Some homes need additional insulation, while others will see improved energy efficiency through the installation of a new hot-water heater or double-paned windows.

The best place to start is to have a home-energy assessment performed by a professional. This person comes to your home and checks for leaks, examines insulation, inspects duct work and generates a report of suggested improvements.

There is a program available in Eagle, Pitkin and Gunnison counties, subsidized by the U.S. Department of Energy, called Energy Smart Colorado. For $50, an Energy Smart expert will inspect your home to reveal where energy is being lost, make minor energy-saving changes and tell you about available rebates of as much as $1,000 for home improvements.

During the home-energy assessment, the analyst will check for gas leaks, examine all insulation and inspect the furnace, water heater and duct work. A blower door test, which involves pulling the air out of your house and using an infrared camera to detect where cold air is coming in, will be performed. After the inspection is complete, the analyst will generate a report suggesting energy-saving measures.

At the time of the inspection, if you choose, the analyst will install the following “quick fix” items in your home as part of the $50 assessment fee:

• One programmable thermostat.

• Up to 10 compact fluorescent bulbs.

• One hot-water-heater blanket.

• Low-flow shower heads and aerators.

The estimated value of the assessment and having the energy-saving items listed above installed in your home is approximately $400. Even a do-it-yourselfer could not accomplish all of the above for $50!

The current rebate, which is available through the end of February, will pay 50 percent of project cost up to $1,000 for homeowners replacing older, inefficient furnaces and boilers with high-efficiency, sealed-combustion appliances.

The Energy Smart Colorado program may not be available forever, so if you are planning to make improvements to your home in 2012, you may want to sign up now.

If you are ready to sign up for a home assessment or would like to learn more about the Energy Smart Colorado program, please visit energysmart You may also contact the Eagle County home energy adviser Yuri Kostick at 970-328-8777 or John-Ryan Lockman with the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability at 970-827-9999, ext. 3.

Joseph Walls is hazardous-waste specialist at the Eagle County Household Hazardous Waste facility, located at the landfill in Wolcott. The facility is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Call 970-328-3468 or visit http://www.eagle for information.

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