The popular ReEnergize Garfield County program, which provides financial aid for home energy-efficiency upgrades, is back with a new rebate schedule that extends benefits to even more residents.
Processing of applications for 2023 funding begins Feb. 15. Anyone interested in the program should enroll as soon as possible, because funds are limited and there is already a waitlist of applicants carried over from 2022.
Launched last year, ReEnergize helps low- and moderate-income households lower their utility bills and make their homes healthier and more comfortable. The program is clearly filling a need, considering that requests exceeded the available funding in the first year. ReEnergize directly funded upgrades in 49 homes and helped another 78 families tap into state and federal funding.
“Many families in Garfield County are struggling with inflation and rising energy costs,” said County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky. “The ReEnergize program improves household energy efficiency and helps lower energy bills for seniors and low- to medium-income homes. Garfield County is proud to help fund this program.”
ReEnergize piggybacks on existing federal and state programs to provide a “one-stop shop” for income-qualified residents who need financial assistance to upgrade their homes to save energy and money. Like GCE’s other programs, it’s managed by Carbondale-based nonprofit Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER).
Households earning 80-150% of the area median income (AMI) can now qualify for $2,000-$4,000 in financial aid toward recommended home energy measures, depending on income. This is an increase from last year’s upper limit of 120% of AMI. For a family of four in Garfield County, the new 150% cap equates to an annual income of $141,300.
For lower-income households, the benefits are even sweeter. Families that earn less than 60% of AMI ($66,468 for a family of four) will be automatically placed in the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, which covers the full cost of home weatherization, window replacement and certain other energy-saving measures. Likewise, families earning 60-80% of the median income (up to $75,360 for a family of four) will get similar assistance through the Colorado Affordable Residential Energy (CARE) program.
All of the programs put a strong emphasis on weatherization upgrades because they usually result in the biggest energy and money savings, according to CLEER Clean Energy Program Manager Zuleika Pevec.
"After a home energy assessment, weatherization is the next action in the energy efficiency order of operations,” she explained. “Better insulation and air sealing makes your home more efficient, and that in turn reduces the cost of heating and cooling it.”
ReEnergize participants receive a free home energy assessment and a writeup identifying specific measures that will do the most good and save the most money, along with individualized advice on how to proceed.
Recommended measures can range from inexpensive fixes like LED lights and programmable thermostats to bigger upgrades such as insulation and air sealing, a more efficient refrigerator or even a new heating/cooling system. ReEnergize will also fund measures that address health and safety concerns, such as carbon monoxide leaks.
Pevec said this year’s higher income cap means that most people who are interested in getting assistance through ReEnergize will qualify for it. When program funds run out – as they likely will – qualifying applicants will be placed on the waitlist for the next funding round.
"We're excited to be able to help more people in Garfield County do the important work of making their homes more energy-efficient,” she said. “Everyone benefits – the homeowner, our local economy and the environment.”