Photo by John F. Russell
Atmos Energy's Mickey Walsh checks a gas meter at a home in West End Village. An energy efficiency program being offered by the utility provides discounted home energy audits, appliance rebates and other ways to help customers reduce their natural gas consumption.
On the 'Net
Visit www.excessisout.com to learn more about Atmos Energy's energy efficiency program. Visit hes.lbl.gov/hes/vh.shtml to use a free online energy audit tool. Visit www.dsireusa.org to view a comprehensive state-by-state database of rebates and other energy efficiency incentives.
Home energy savings tips
- Lower your thermostat to 68 degrees, and turn it down 5 degrees at night
- Lower your water heater to 120 degrees
- Open window coverings on south-facing windows to help warm your home in winter
- Do more loads of laundry with cold water
- Replace your furnace filter regularly
- Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators
- Weatherize your home by weather-stripping doors and sealing windows
- Invest in a programmable thermostat that turns your heat down when you're not home
- Add more insulation
- Purchase a high efficiency heating system and water heater
- Upgrade your furnace or boiler to a new high efficiency model
- Upgrade your water heater to a new high efficiency model
- Install storm windows and doors
- Lower your heat to 55 degrees when you are going away for several days
- Keep fireplace dampers closed until you are prepared to use them
- Have your heating system checked annually
- Close heating registers in seldom used rooms
- Use water only when necessary while doing dishes, washing up, brushing teeth or shaving
- Take short showers instead of baths
- Wrap the hot water pipes coming out of your water heater with insulation
- Load dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers to capacity, without overloading
- Don't peek in the oven as you cook
Source: Atmos Energy
Steamboat Springs Atmos Energy customers can take advantage of discounted energy audits, appliance rebates and income-qualified energy programs through an energy-efficiency initiative being offered by the utility.
Atmos teamed up with SourceGas and Colorado Natural Gas to develop the Excess is Out program, which satisfies the requirements of a 2007 law requiring all natural gas utilities to implement demand-side management programs to reduce natural gas consumption.
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project estimates the 2007 law will reduce natural gas consumption by 2.6 billion cubic feet a year by 2010 and 15.4 cubic feet a year by 2020.
The latter figure represents 8 percent of the natural gas used by all residences and commercial buildings in the state, according to SWEEP.
Chad Feagler, of Mountain Energy Consultants, has been contracted by Atmos to do all of the Excess is Out energy audits in the Steamboat Springs area and provide recommendations about how to improve the energy efficiency of homes.
"A leaky house can increase your energy bills or your heating bills by 30 percent," Feagler said.
There are three levels of audits, from a simple walkthrough to an infrared scan of a home. Prices range from $200 to $300, and Atmos picks up the first $100, Feagler said.
"It's a great price. If I did this on my own, it would cost $600," Feagler said. "It's totally worth it. : This is a great service that the utilities are offering."
Feagler said he has performed only three of the audits in the Steamboat area so far.
The rebates being offered through the Excess is Out program range from $25 for a programmable thermostat to 50 percent of the cost of new insulation up to $1,000. Atmos also is working with Energy Outreach Colorado and the Governor's Energy Office to offer energy efficiency packages for income-qualified customers. For more information on that program, call 1-800-HEAT-HELP.
Officials encouraged people to take advantage of the programs sooner rather than later.
"Basically, this program was built for two years. When that runs up, then the rebates go away," Atmos Energy spokesman Kevin Kerrigan said. "What we would look at is what the program would look like after that two-year program. That's kind of an unknown question."
Matt Futch, utilities program manager with the Governor's Energy Office, said that although the Public Utilities Commission will re-evaluate programs such as Excess is Out, he doesn't expect them to be discontinued after two years.