Key program components of Energy Smart Colorado's program include:
• Energy Resource Centers. In Energy Smart Colorado communities, residents are coached through the process of completing a home retrofit from start to finish. Residents receive resources and information on qualified contractors, financing, and incentives. Homes that complete Energy Smart Colorado retrofits save an average of 20% on their annual home energy bill, and improvements often last the lifetime of the home. Energy Smart Colorado coaches are trained staff members at community non-profits and have established trust over time in rural Colorado communities.
• The home energy assessment and energy coaching. The Energy Smart Colorado home energy assessment is a comprehensive evaluation of a home's performance in energy efficiency, comfort, health and safety. The assessment is conducted by an Energy Smart Colorado energy analyst, certified through the nationally recognized Building Performance Institute. Residents receive on-the-spot installation of energy conservation measures (quick-fix items), the comprehensive assessment report, and ongoing assistance with retrofit completion. The assessment report details the health and safety of a home's combustion appliances, diagnostic air-sealing tests, and recommended energy improvements and their return on investment, including: air sealing, insulation, windows and doors, domestic hot water and appliances.
• Financing for home retrofits. Energy Smart Colorado has partnered with the State of Colorado to offer the Colorado Residential Energy Upgrade (RENU) loan. The Colorado RENU Loan program is a statewide residential loan program sponsored by the Colorado Energy Office, in partnership with Elevations Credit Union. It makes home energy upgrades easy and affordable by offering low-cost, long-term financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. Low interest rates and minimal application fees allow up to $35,000 in financing to be available to homeowners.
• Expansion of local and utility incentives. Energy Smart Colorado communities establish local homeowner rebates and leverage utility rebates. This in turn helps Energy Smart Colorado contractors increase the frequency of work and job-size by including rebates and incentives in comprehensive energy retrofit packages presented to homeowners.
- Local rebates. Prior to Energy Smart Colorado, few locally funded rebate options existed. As part of the Energy Smart Colorado network, many non-profit community partners have established a matching locally-funded rebate for retrofit work, ranging from $200-$1000 in size, and funded by local governments and businesses.
- Utility rebates. Rural Colorado communities traditionally access existing utility incentives at a lower rate than their urban counterparts. In many cases, additional certifications are required of contractors, and many communities have few contractors with these necessary certifications. Energy Smart Colorado has increased the number of certified contractors and utility rebates accessed in every community the program partners with by providing local certification opportunities, providing cost-share for certifications, working with providers to schedule trainings in smaller time segments during slow seasons, and assisting with paperwork and re-certification.
• Establishment of a trusted and highly qualified network of energy contractors. Energy Smart Colorado communities develop high quality local jobs in the energy sector. Contractors that work with the Energy Smart Colorado program receive on-site technical assistance, on-going training opportunities and assistance with certifications.
• Marketing support and public education. Energy Smart Colorado provides an easy-to-use marketing platform for each participating community, including a central website, program brochures, assistance with advertisements and seasonal campaigns. Participating communities conduct public education through local avenues using Energy Smart Colorado shared resources.
• A network of support. Energy Smart Colorado establishes avenues of communication between communities through regular conference calls, email correspondence and an annual summit. Expertise from similar communities can be invaluable in developing specific program pieces. Over the past several years, Energy Smart Colorado communities worked collaboratively to improve service to low-income populations and address home health and human safety issues such as radon and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Since 2010, ESC has developed energy efficiency programs that have directly led to more than $57 Million in local investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. In partner communities, over 9,000 energy assessments have resulted in the completion of over 5,000 energy upgrades. More importantly, each year, participants are saving over $3.9 Million in utility costs and 27,410 Metric tons of CO2. ESC has helped communities develop strategic plans, necessary program infrastructure, and trained program personnel to reach these numbers.