Steamboat Springs The city of Steamboat Springs announced Thursday that it has received a $2,500 matching grant from the Governor's Energy Office to promote the construction of energy-efficient homes.
The grant will provide the city with resources to encourage new homes to go after the Energy Star label. The label is awarded to homes that meet standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency and are at least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code. Homes typically achieve that efficiency - or greater - through measures such as insulation, high-performance windows, building envelope, duct systems and efficient heating and cooling equipment.
"Energy-efficient homes are our best defense against the rising cost of energy and reducing our overall energy demand," said Tom Plant, director of the Governor's Energy Office.
The office awarded $224,000 statewide for the program out of $329,000 requested. Matching grants were awarded up to $25,000.
"We want to support communities that are interested in investing in energy efficiency but need assistance in rolling out a local program," Plant said.
City planner Bob Keenan is Steamboat's coordinator for the program. He said the city knows, generally, how it will use the money.
"We're looking to do some education and outreach and possibly train some home energy raters," Keenan said, noting there are no local energy raters at this time.
An independent rater must conduct on-site testing and inspections before a home can earn the Energy Star label. Keenan said in addition to significant energy savings, an Energy Star home would have an enhanced resale value. In addition to being environmentally responsible, Keenan said such homes also tend to be much more comfortable and convenient, noting features such as on-demand hot water.
Megan Castle, spokeswoman for the Governor's Energy Office, said comfort and convenience could motivate home builders more than environmental stewardship.
"Certainly, building better homes is a better way to manage our growth as a state, as a country and as a world," Castle said. "But an energy efficient home is much more comfortable, too."
The Governor's Energy Office is less than a year old. Gov. Bill Ritter created it out of the former Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation, which was created in 1977 to promote energy conservation in Colorado. The new office views conservation as just one component to "a new energy economy," and has a broader focus that includes the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable and clean energy sources.