National Weatherization Day is Oct. 30, 2014. Since its inception in 1976, communities across the nation recognize Weatherization Assistance Programs dedicated to serving low-income households in need of safer, warmer homes. The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) Weatherization Assistance Program offers free energy efficiency, health and safety services to income-qualified households statewide, estimating a 20% annual energy savings on average per household.
By accessing these services at no cost, the state’s most vulnerable populations – including the elderly, disabled and families with young children – can reduce their monthly utility bills.
For Colorado’s lower income communities, the high costs of energy and fluctuations in energy prices are a heavy financial burden. Inefficient heating and cooling systems contribute largely to high monthly gas and electric bills, draining resources that could be otherwise spent on other critical living needs, such as food, clothing and medication. For a financially struggling household, upgrading the home’s energy performance is simply not an affordable option.
A recent client testimonial from Energy Resource Center (ERC), a CEO Weatherization Program service provider, illustrates just how significant energy upgrades to a home can affect a family’s life.
Nona Trites has lived in her 1954 Wheat Ridge home for 46 years. Until recently, she relied on the original furnace that came with the home.
“The furnace was probably 50 years old. It was a good furnace – but very noisy, and went on all the time to keep the temperature up,” she says. That caused her energy bills to be higher than they would be if she’d had a more energy efficient system.
Weatherizing her home – and especially getting a new furnace – was something Nona and her husband had thought about over the years. But the upgrades were just too costly. At 86, Nona is living on Social Security, and has spent a considerable amount of money on hospital and nursing home bills for her husband over the last year. She paid a little bit at a time to pay off those bills – but with little savings, it was a financial challenge.
When Nona discovered that the Energy Resource Center (ERC) could provide home performance upgrades at no cost, she gladly accepted. “I said I sure did need it. We had no resources at all to pay for things that needed to get done,” she says.
Nona automatically qualified for ERC’s free services because she is a customer of LEAP, the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program. She estimates that her previous winter energy bills were reaching almost $280 per month. The costs were lowered with help from LEAP, but now, she looks forward to paying even less.
As part of the free package, Nona received carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and CFL light bulbs throughout the house along with an energy efficient refrigerator.
From laying tarp on her stairs to protect against the mess, to explaining what they were doing as they worked, the ERC crew was welcomed by Nona. “They went right to work. They did such a nice job, and all of the men were so courteous,” she says.
For more information on the CEO Weatherization Program and how to qualify, click HERE.