Increasing Energy Efficiency in Boulder County

December 11, 2012

Energy – we all have it, use it, and need it. I’m not talking about that morning cup of joe, but the electricity and gas that power your home’s heat, lights, and electronics. But most of us are rarely aware of that energy unless it unexpectedly stops.

As an energy efficiency professional, and manager of most communication for Boulder County’s local energy efficiency program, I get to make it easier for people to understand and care about their energy.

I never expected to be a public employee. Now that I am, I’m amazed at the opportunity I have to be of service to my community.  I get to hear what the community needs and make real changes to our services to better address those needs. And I get to hear from people who’ve worked with our program and are now so much happier, warmer, and saving hundreds on their energy bills – helping me feel great about what I do.

On a daily basis, I talk to people -- lots of people. I talk with contractors about what regulations they’re expected to meet; I talk with our program’s Energy Advisors to hear what our customers are saying. I write press releases and update our website to better communicate to the world. I also talk with a lot of members of the public to get their input and feedback – trying to make our program better for everyone.

Over the past two and a half years, I’ve picked up some interesting tidbits that I’d love to share.

Energy efficiency allows you to ditch the sweater and get comfy! Many people think that energy efficiency means making a sacrifice: turning down the heat and wearing a sweater. This is a fine way to save energy, but efficiency is all about getting just as much service for less work. That means we look for places your heat is escaping (most homes have lots of cracks and leaks into their ceiling/attic) and seal them up. That way, you keep the thermostat where it is and end up with fewer drafts and cold-spots. Even better, stopping energy waste means you’re not paying to heat the neighborhood anymore, so you’ll save some extra dough, too.

Making your home energy-efficient is a financial win. It’s true that energy efficiency upgrades to an existing home require some up-front investment, but efficiency is not “more expensive.” Often, it takes only a couple of years for that investment to pay you back in lower utility bills. And every year after that you’re going to be making money from those bills you’re not paying.

You can breathe easier with the help of an energy efficiency contractor. Most reputable energy efficiency contractors can perform a series of air quality tests when they test a home’s energy efficiency. This is a great way to learn about potential health hazards in your home. By tightening up your home, you can add ventilation to bring your circulating air from the outside, where it’s clean, instead of through the dusty, grimy attic.

At the end of the day, my job is about helping people – sometimes in ways they didn’t even know they needed. When they get their first energy bill after the upgrades, or finally walk into “that room” and don’t shudder from a chill, they’re so excited about their newly energy-efficient home. The great bonus is that this also helps our environment, which means it’s good for people today and in the future.

This post is written by Beth Beckel, an Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Specialist for Boulder County.

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