Climate Action Collaborative: Money, like hot air, can seep out of your home (column) | VailDaily.com

Climate Action Collaborative: Money, like hot air, can seep out of your home (column)

James Dilzell
Climate Action Collaborative

Summer is over, fall is here and winter is coming. But do you know what else is coming? The season of high energy bills.

October is Energy Efficiency Month and a great time to take action and get ahead of your bills before they catch up to you. It may not be as glamorous as upgrading the kitchen or buying that new TV, but it is a difference you can see and feel. There just so happens to be one other benefit: It's a critical component of helping Eagle County meet its upcoming emissions goals.

The Climate Action Collaborative for the Eagle County community has a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050 (learn more and take the pledge at climateaction collaborative.com). Buildings are the No. 1 source of emissions, representing nearly 60 percent of the total.

That means the biggest impact you can have is to reduce your home (and business) emissions by maximizing energy efficiency. Save money, reduce emissions — it's a winning combination, but where do you start?

The first step is to conduct a Home Energy Assessment through Walking Mountains Science Center and Energy Smart Colorado or a local energy efficiency contractor. A BPI-Certified building analyst will spend a few hours in your home and, after analysis, will provide you with a report outlining clear recommendations for energy upgrades.

These upgrades range from simple things such as lighting, programmable thermostats and Energy STAR appliances to more complex enhancements such as insulation, air sealing and Solar PV. During the assessment, you'll receive quick energy-saving fixes, such as free LED bulbs, a programmable thermostat and pipe insulation to help get you started.

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The next step is to take action. Utilize your home's energy assessment report to plan and execute those energy efficiency upgrades, whatever they may be for your home. The bigger projects, such as air sealing and insulation, can save you 10 percent on your annual energy bills, and upgrading heating equipment can help you save further.

If you have trouble figuring out the best course of action, energy coaches at Walking Mountains are available to help and will connect you with rebates to make upgrades more feasible.

If capital upgrades to your home still seem a bit intimidating, don't worry, there are plenty of simple, do-it-yourself options that will help save on monthly bills immediately. One of the easiest is to reduce the temperature on your water heater. It is quite common that water heaters are set at a higher temperature than needed. Turn yours down to 120 degrees and save anywhere from 4 percent to 22 percent in energy usage.

Programmable thermostats, with properly set temperatures, are another great way to save money and energy and have the potential to save 10 percent on heating energy. Another fantastic way to quickly save energy yourself is to swap out all of your old light bulbs with LEDs. They use about 90 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb, last for years longer and are now available in a multitude of color temperatures, so the quality of your lighting is maintained.

Every home, and every building, can play a part in attaining the goals of the Climate Action Collaborative. In the meantime, we'll all save some money and benefit the community as a whole. It's all fairly simple, and yet we need everyone to take action in order to succeed. And remember, you'll be saving yourself money and helping us to reduce carbon emissions at the same time. Be better together.

James Dilzell is an energy coach with the Energy Smart Colorado program at Walking Mountains Science Center and a member of the Climate Action Collaborative.