Mobile home residents in Dotsero receive free major home energy makeovers
Local organizations supply beneficial electrification heating and cooling systems, new appliances, windows, insulation and energy efficiency upgrades
A growing number of mobile home residents in Dotsero are reaping the benefits of fuel-switching to electrification, first and foremost because now they can actually heat their homes in the winter.
Eagle County government, Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, Energy Smart Colorado, Walking Mountains Science Center, Colorado Energy Office and Holy Cross Energy are making great strides in helping these residents. The organizations are outfitting homes in the Dotsero Mobile Home Park with state-of-the-art weatherization and sustainable energy systems through the Beneficial Electrification for Eagle County Housing project.
The project launched in December, supplying three mobiles homes in Dotsero with brand new Air Source Heat Pump heating and cooling systems, induction ranges and customized energy efficiency and weatherization upgrades. Every dollar spent on the upgrade is designed to return at least a dollar savings on their utility bill. The upgrades will reduce each home’s greenhouse gas emissions by 6.4 tons per year.
“Building electrification eliminates risks from gas line leaks and from combustion of fuels inside homes,” said Eagle County Environmental Manager John Gitchell. “Our pilot project with NWCCOG identified the major problems, and also a solution. Capping the gas line and replacing gas appliances with high efficiency electric appliances improves health and safety for Eagle County residents and reduces energy costs.”
None of the three homes had a functioning furnace and the families living in them had been using space heaters to keep warm for years. Comprised of about 80 homes, the entire Dotsero park is fueled by propane gas. This adds up to steep bills and due to poor or nonexistent ventilation of such tight living spaces, presents major risks of carbon monoxide, gas leaks and combustion from furnaces, water heaters, cooking and laundry appliances.
“We targeted these homes not only because these people were struggling and qualified for our low-income weatherization program, but because they’re on a carbon-based fuel source,” said NWCCOG Energy Program Director Doug Jones. “With a gas range, the by products of combustion come right out into the home. We started looking at what it would take to totally upgrade these homes with a beneficial electrification package and also do something about climate change before it’s too late.”
One client, a local handyman and father of three who lives in one of the first homes targeted by BEECH, said that his family had been using a wood-burning stove as their only source of central heat and had to use space heaters in bedrooms to prevent the rooms from freezing in the winter.
“When you move away from the heater, it was very cold,” he said. “It’s nice to wake up with the same temperature everywhere in the house.”
This client’s home was outfitted with a brand new electric heat pump and water heater, the gas oven was replaced with a new induction range, and every component of the home was customized for efficient energy use. A second client, a single mother who works as a housekeeper, spent five years living in her mobile home with absolutely no source of heat other than small space heaters. She and her young daughter wore thick down jackets indoors throughout the winter. This home was also transformed by the BEECH program. Her home received the same upgrades as the first home as well as full floor insulation and storm windows.
There are more than 1,500 mobile homes in Eagle County and the BEECH program aims to transform 20 more throughout 2021. Mobile home residents can apply for beneficial electrification through the Mobile Intercultural Resource Alliance (MIRA) Bus, which targets and travels to low-income communities, providing a number of free services to improve home safety and energy costs through additional programs such as the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and Colorado’s Affordable Residential Energy (CARE) program.