Talking Green: Start at home, work to make a difference; new energy efficiency programs available | SteamboatToday.com

Talking Green: Start at home, work to make a difference; new energy efficiency programs available

Suzie Romig For Steamboat Today

During a recent ride up the gondola, a fellow passenger and longtime local expressed her frustrations while passing over construction representing what she considers America's "never enough" mentality. She said she struggles with making a difference for the environment or even knowing where to start to make a dent considering today's often maximalist society.

"Learn more about the one thing that frustrates you the most," I suggested, "and do something about that one thing."

If we want to find an effective place to make a difference as a mountain community resident or business owner, start where you spend the most time — at home and work. Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, or YVSC, helps to educate on steps to mitigate your home and workplace's energy and environmental burden by connecting locals to free or low-cost energy efficiency services.

Some of those locally available programs include residential energy assessments, electric and natural gas home efficiency rebates, customized rebates for Atmos natural gas commercial property customers, free home weatherization upgrades for income-qualified residents, and C-PACE commercial property tax-assessed financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy and water saving projects.

As the nippy mornings force us to think about higher winter utility bills, YVSC is kicking off two new local programs: energy efficiency Jump Starts and Commercial/Business Energy Audits. The Commercial Energy Audits that are administered by YVSC for the local Cen$ible Energy rebate program offer a mid-level energy efficiency on-site review, written report and next-step recommendations by certified auditors.

The target client is an office, retail, restaurant or lodging property at 10,000 square feet. The audits are available for small businesses for $500, and the first 10 businesses within the Yampa Valley Electric Association territory to sign up this season will receive a $200 audit rebate through Cen$ible Energy.

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The energy efficiency Jump Start is available for income-qualified Routt County residents earning 80 percent or less of the area medium income, or AMI. The free program includes an energy audit, furnace tuneup, quick fix efficiency installations and coaching toward energy savings. Jump Start is meant to supplement the existing CARE program, or Colorado Affordable Residential Energy. Applications for new CARE clients, who need to have Atmos natural gas for primary home heating, are available now. Email suzie@yvsc.org.

In addition to rebates for energy audits, the community-supported Cen$ible Energy program, at censibleenergy.org, provides rebates for efficient LED bulbs, Energy Star-certified appliances, programmable thermostats and air sealing. YVEA customers can save receipts for those items purchased after Oct. 2 to submit a rebate form when Cen$ible Energy funding opens again Jan. 1.

The Atmos Energy year-round SmartChoice program, found at atmosenergy.com/smartchoiceco, provides rebates for residential audits, high-efficiency gas furnaces or boilers, air sealing, programmable and smart thermostats, proper sizing of a gas boiler or furnace, and insulation upgrades for attics, basements and ducts.

More information on these and other programs — ranging from energy efficient mortgages to energy efficiency grants for nonprofit agencies and multi-family units — can be found at yvsc.org/energy-efficiency.

Suzie Romig is the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council energy outreach coordinator.

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