Dan Temple, chairman of the Grand Valley United Methodist Church Board of Trustees, shows off one of two new furnaces at the church in Parachute. The new system will heat the church sanctuary in winter and quietly cool it in the summer.
Photo by Kelley Cox
Churches use energy efficiency to be good stewards
Garfield Clean Energy’s free energy coaching
helps 10 churches lower their utility bills
Clean Energy Economy News
On sunny days, Bill Cook likes to check the meter that tracks electricity produced by the solar array installed at the First United Methodist Church in Glenwood Springs. If it’s “running the other direction,” he says, it means the church is saving money rather than paying for electricity. Cook, who is the chair of the church’s Capital Improvements Committee, is especially proud on those days.
For church congregations trying to balance their budget and be good stewards of creation, it makes sense to install energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy systems. Since 2011, Garfield Clean Energy, which is managed by CLEER, has helped 10 church congregations across the county become better energy stewards.
Churches in Parachute, Rifle, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale have invested in solar arrays, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems and controls, insulation and LED lighting.
“Churches that save money on energy costs will have more funds to focus on their primary mission,” said Shelley Kaup, an energy coach for Garfield Clean Energy. “They are also practicing good stewardship for the Earth and helping to preserve its resources for future generations.”
Such was the case for First United Methodist, when its capital committee forged ahead with major energy upgrades in 2014. Energy efficiency improvements to the sanctuary roof solved long-standing heat loss and water damage issues. And an 11.3-kilowatt solar electric system will offset about half of the church’s annual electricity use.
“With the solar panels, it was pretty much a win-win thing because that ended up being a savings of 50 percent,” said Cook.
Built in 1940, the church sanctuary has a beautiful interior ceiling, but there was no insulation and no attic where insulation could be placed. Over time, the roof began leaking, damaging the tongue-and-groove ceiling. A full roof replacement would have endangered the planks and exposed timbers and joists -- key interior design elements that church members wanted to preserve.
So Cook consulted with an engineer and architect along with Kaup for energy coaching. The team recommended replacement of the exterior roof with structural insulated panels, or SIPs. The panels created a thick layer of insulation on the sanctuary roof, and created a strong surface for the installation of solar panels.
Most of the solar electric system was paid for through community grants and rebates, with energy coaching guidance from Kaup.
“CLEER made us aware that rebates were available,” said Cook. “It was nice to have people helping us who are closely involved with energy conservation; they know about these programs that are going on.”
The solar electric project qualified for a $12,500 rebate from Glenwood Springs Electric. In addition, the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) awarded $28,000 through its Community Grant program for the solar array and the roof upgrades.
“I still can’t believe got that much,” Cook said of the assistance from CORE. “We’re hoping to see the [total] cost offset in electric savings not too far off in the future.”
Kaup said the estimated energy savings from both projects are more than $2,000 per year.
“This project is a great example of combining energy efficiency and renewable energy to achieve savings and improve building durability for years to come,” said Kaup.
Grand Valley United Methodist heating and cooling upgrades
Grand Valley United Methodist Church in Parachute.
In early December, Grand Valley United Methodist in Parachute was bustling with workers.
Purdue Heating and Cooling was replacing two old gas-fired furnaces and a swamp cooler with two 95 percent efficient furnaces and a heat pump to manage temperature in the church’s sanctuary.
The old furnaces were located in the kitchen area and in the sanctuary, which seats about 100 people.
“The two furnaces we replaced were in need,” said Dan Temple, chairman of the church Board of Trustees. “This gave us an opportunity to try to improve [the air temperature] and get something that was really efficient, too.”
“The sanctuary also had an old swamp cooler. It was very noisy and we couldn’t use it during service,” Temple said.
Churches taking steps to be more energy efficient
Interfaith Power & Light
At first, Temple thought the church would need to switch over to an air conditioning system. But CLEER Energy Coach Matt Shmigelsky advised Temple to go with a heat pump system, which costs less to operate. The heat pump uses an electric-powered condenser, not gas. It will heat the building in winter and keep it cool in summer. The new furnaces in the sanctuary area will provide backup heat when temps drop below 20 degrees.
Temple first heard about Garfield Clean Energy and community rebates at a Kiwanis Club meeting several months ago, when Garfield Clean Energy board member Judith Hayward made a presentation to the club. Temple began working with Shmigelsky and said the Garfield Clean Energy coaching has been “very helpful.”
Rebates from Garfield Clean Energy and Xcel Energy are expected to help offset the cost of the heating and cooling upgrades. The next energy project for Grand Valley United Methodist is to replace old T12 fluorescent lighting fixtures with LEDs to gain more electrical energy savings.
Although financial savings drove the project, cutting the church’s carbon footprint is a nice bonus. “It certainly makes sense to try to go energy efficient as much as you can. If nothing else, to save our fossil fuels,” Temple said.
First Assembly of God replaced 51 light fixtures
Pastor BJ Worthen at First Assembly of God in Rifle says his church congregation has been thinking about energy usage. “It does just seem prudent for us to pay attention to energy consumption and our energy footprint in the community,” Worthen said.
Those conversations prompted a large lighting upgrade at First Assembly in 2011. A church member who owns an auto mechanic shop had tipped Worthen to the more energy efficient light bulbs, noting that rebates could help offset the project cost.
Worthen contacted Garfield Clean Energy, and an energy coach worked through the specs on the building, including the number of light fixtures and bulbs, as well as helping the church apply for rebates.
“They jumped right in there, figured out the rebates, and they were sure a blessing to us,” Worthen said.
With the plan in hand, Worthen hired Rifle Electric to replace 51 T12 fluorescent lights with new efficient T8s. The project in the 20,000-square-foot church was huge, and the company worked for a full week to replace all the bulbs and fixtures.
Two-thirds of the costs were offset by rebates, according to Worthen, and the estimated savings per year is $450.
“Any way we can get some help to pay for a project that big — we’re a small-town church — well, that’s a big deal.” The new lighting, he noted, also “made things brighter and cheerier.”
Free home energy upgrades offered
for low-income families, seniors
Joint Garfield Clean Energy - Town of Carbondale program
to help 57 families in 2015
Clean Energy Economy News
Garfield Clean Energy and the Town of Carbondale will provide home energy visits and free energy efficiency upgrades to 57 low-income households in Garfield County under a new program starting in January.
Garfield Clean Energy
Homes can be single-family, condos, apartments or mobile homes.
If you or someone you know could be eligible, please contact CLEER for more information: (970) 704-9200 or email@example.com
CORE, the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, offers a similar program to income-qualified Pitkin County residents. Call (970) 925-9775 to learn more.
“This program is for households with incomes that are just a bit too high to qualify for the region’s other free weatherization program,” said Erica Sparhawk, program director for CLEER, which manages Garfield Clean Energy.
“We know many of these families and seniors are still struggling to pay utility bills, especially in winter. This program will help reduce their bills and make their homes more safe and comfortable,” Sparhawk said.
Energy coaches with Garfield Clean Energy will begin reaching out to families in neighborhoods from Parachute to Carbondale in January to make appointments for home visits.
“Our bilingual energy coaching team will visit the home, spending about an hour evaluating the home for high-priority energy efficiency upgrades. After the visit, the energy coaches will work with local contractors to make the upgrades,” Sparhawk said.
Energy upgrades may include:
- Furnace or boiler tune-up and safety check
- Insulation and air sealing in attic, walls and crawl space
- High-efficiency refrigerator
- High-efficiency water heater
- CFL light bulbs
- Storm windows
- Programmable thermostat
- Low-flow showerheads
“Households won’t have to pay for any of these improvements,” Sparhawk said. For rental housing, landlords will be asked to pay for up to 50 percent of the upgrades, she noted.
These energy upgrades are being paid for through a grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, from the Town of Carbondale Clean Energy 2020 program, and by the energy utilities serving Garfield County: Xcel Energy, Holy Cross Energy, Glenwood Springs Electric and SourceGas.
Energy Outreach Colorado (EOC), the statewide nonprofit that helps low-income families and seniors pay energy bills, will handle the paperwork to make sure households qualify for the program. EOC will also distribute funds from the energy utilities that are earmarked for low-income customers.
EOC already manages a home weatherization program for low-income customers of Xcel Energy living in single-family homes, and has developed partnerships with other natural gas utilities across the state, including SourceGas, said Luke Ilderton, director of energy efficiency programs for EOC.
The nonprofit also partners with community organizations on the Front Range to carry out energy efficiency programs in that region, he said. The Garfield Clean Energy program is the first program like this for EOC outside the Front Range area, he noted. Because it will leverage utility rebates, the program can help many more families, he added.
“These energy efficiency upgrades mean these families are going to save on their utility costs, and that will trickle down to decisions about what food and medications they can afford,” Ilderton said. “The upgrades will also make their home healthier and safer, giving them a more comfortable living environment.”
Already, Energy Outreach Colorado has a list of more than 400 families and seniors in Garfield County that would qualify for the program, Sparhawk said, and U.S. Census data shows that as many as 2,000 households fall within this income range.
“We see a great need for helping low-income families and seniors reduce their utility costs. Energy efficiency upgrades are the best way to meet that need,” Sparhawk said. “We hope to find additional funding for this effort, because we will be meeting just a small portion of the need in 2015.”
Repairs after house fire cut energy bills in half
Glenwood Springs couple replaces hazardous electric baseboards
with heat pump for heating and cooling
Clean Energy Economy News
After an electrical fire charred the interior of their Glenwood Springs home two years ago, Keith and Jan Giezentanner replaced windows, doors, appliances, lights and the heating system with all energy efficient models.
The result is that the couple’s electric bills are half what they were before the fire and their pellet stove consumes two-thirds less fuel. As an extra bonus, they now have a cooling system that keeps the whole house comfortable on baking summer days.
By making smart choices during the six-month rebuilding process, the Giezentanners are saving about $1,000 a year on their combined electric bills and pellet fuel costs.
“It’s worth it to spend a little more out front, because you’re going to get it back,” said Keith Giezentanner.
The fire erupted on Black Friday of Thanksgiving weekend in 2012. Keith and Jan were visiting relatives in Louisiana, and were relying on the electric baseboard heating system to keep the house warm while they were gone. Their neighbor spotted smoke billowing out the back corner of the house that Friday morning, and the fire department arrived in three minutes.
Looking down into the Giezentanner's living room after the Black Friday house fire, which started in the electric baseboard heating unit behind the sofa.
“They think it was smoldering for about two days, and they told us that the temperatures were so high, the house was minutes away from exploding in flame,” Jan recalled.
While she made a habit of cleaning the electric baseboard units twice a year, a build-up of dust and dog hair apparently made the baseboard system catch fire.
“The fire inspector told us that not using the baseboard heaters as the main source of heat may have contributed to more accumulation of dust than if they had been used on a regular basis,” Jan said.
The couple came home to a horrible mess, with broken glass, melted plastic items, a charred sofa and a ruined piano. Everything in the house was smoke-damaged, although the house structure was still intact.
Over the next six months, the couple worked with Ed Puckett, a New Castle contractor, to make major repairs to the interior of the home. They researched options for replacement equipment and materials that would be highly efficient, as well as attractive and durable.
CLEER Energy Coach Erica Sparhawk also helped explain energy efficient technologies and helped the Giezentanners make the most of rebates available from Glenwood Springs Electric and Garfield Clean Energy. By purchasing highly efficient windows, LED light bulbs, ENERGY STAR appliances and a new heating and cooling system, they qualified for $1,400 in rebates to offset costs.
“It was a real pleasant surprise to get those rebates,” said Jan.
The biggest system change was to get rid of the electric baseboard heating system entirely, and replace it with a mini-split air source heat pump. The unit is in two parts, a condenser that takes up a few square feet on their back patio and a ventilation unit mounted on the wall in their living room.
The Fujitsu electric-powered heat pump can draw heat from outside air down to about 15 degrees. On a recent 20-degree morning, the system was pushing comfy warm air into the room, heating the entire main and second floor.
Their original pellet stove still stands in the corner of the room, waiting for extra-chilly weather. A second pellet stove is in the finished basement, available to heat a guest room and Jan’s craft room when needed.
In summer, the heat pump works in reverse, sending cool air into the home without putting a strain on the electric bill.
In the upstairs master bedroom, a second heat pump was installed. They haven’t yet needed it for heating, but it cools the room in summer and far less costly to operate than the old window air conditioning unit they had before the fire.
While the couple wouldn’t wish a house fire on anyone, they have come out the other side with a more comfortable home.
“We’re very happy with the way things turned out,” said Jan. Their 3,000-square-foot home is also much more economical to operate.
Prior to the fire, electric bills were running about $130 per month, and that was with using the pellet stove as much as possible and burning three tons of pellets per winter.
Now, their electric bills are running $60 to $70 per month, they rely on the heat pump for most heating needs, and they used just one ton of wood pellets last winter.
The Carbondale Police Department's new Ford Fusion gets a battery recharge from the public charging station at Carbondale Town Hall.
Photo by Mike Ogburn
Carbondale Police driving plug-in hybrid electric Ford
Eagle County installs free public EV charging station
Two local governments added to the electric vehicle trend in December. The Carbondale Police Department recently purchased a plug-in Ford Fusion Energi, and Eagle County celebrated the opening of a free public electric vehicle charging station at the county government building in Eagle.
Carbondale Police Chief Gene Schilling said the Ford Fusion will primarily be used by School Resource Officer Michael Zimmerman. He should be able to make his usual daily rounds of the schools in Carbondale on the car’s electric motor, without using the gasoline backup.
While not fully outfitted for police patrol, the Fusion is equipped with an interior light bar, communications and other law enforcement gear. After ordering the car through Glenwood Ford, Schilling drove it to Denver to be outfitted. With a full charge in Carbondale and a recharge in Denver, the car made the trip averaging 45 mpg, Schilling said.
Police department staff will also use the Fusion to attend out-of-town training.
Schilling said his department wanted to add a plug-in vehicle to the fleet, and the lower-mileage school resource officer vehicle, which also needs less specialty police equipment, seemed the best place to start. Regular patrol officers drive 40 to 50 miles per day, he noted, and would have to use the gasoline back-up a lot more often.
The biggest drawback, he said, is the loss of trunk space for the battery. “I’m sure in next few years, they will start making more functional police vehicles,” Schilling said.
The vehicle will be able to charge at night using the public charging station at Carbondale Town Hall.
Eagle County opens EV charging station
Eagle County officials and electric car advocates gathered for a "plugging in" event at the Eagle County Building on Dec. 8.
On Dec. 8, the Eagle County Commissioners hosted a “plugging in” ceremony to celebrate a new electric vehicle charging station installed on the west side of the Eagle County Building in Eagle.
The event included test drives of the new 2015 Chevy Volt courtesy of Mountain Chevrolet of Glenwood Springs.
The charge station equipment and installation cost $8,700, and the Colorado Energy Office Charge Ahead Colorado grant program funded $6,260. Installation was done with help from the county’s facilities and engineering departments.
“Charge Ahead Colorado is designed to alleviate ‘range anxiety’ for electric vehicle drivers and expand the charging infrastructure in the state,” said Wes Maurer, transportation program manager at the Colorado Energy Office. “Colorado is now nearing 200 publicly available charging stations statewide, up from 79 at the program’s inception in 2013.”
“We hope that an increase in public charging stations will help encourage more people in our community to invest in clean and efficient vehicles,” said John Gitchell, Eagle County environmental sustainability coordinator.
A full charge costs approximately $1.50 in electricity, so the station could increase the county’s electric bill by up to $500 per year. However, offering free public charging reflects Eagle County’s commitment to its Actively Green “15 x ‘15” environmental policy, Gitchell said. The initiative seeks to reduce use of energy, fuels, water and paper 15 percent by 2015. The policy also supports increased recycling, renewable energy sources and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
In this issue
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Energy Coach Matt Shmigelsky's
Hot Tip for December
Light up the night
We love to get away from the power grid for travel and outdoor adventure. Here are some sun-powered lighting options that would fit easily in a daypack.
All three manufacturers sell to U.S. customers, but their focus is on bringing clean, affordable light to the developing world. Giving options are available as part of your purchase.
Mpowerd Luci: Inflatable, solar-powered, waterproof LED lanterns. Lightweight, collapsible, all-in-one units.
Nokero: Hanging or standing solar-powered LED lights. Some models also have phone-charging capability.
d.light: Solar-powered lanterns with adjustable handle and stand. Models with phone-charging capability
CDOT’s “Bustang” weekday bus service set to roll in spring 2015
The Colorado Department of Transportation unveiled more details for its planned “Bustang” weekday regional express bus service, with routes running north, west and south from a hub at Denver Union Station starting in spring 2015.
The western Blue Line service will depart Glenwood Springs at 7:35 a.m. and arrive Denver at 10:35 a.m., and depart Denver at 6:10 p.m. and arrive Glenwood Springs at 9:35 p.m. Along the way, Bustang will stop in Eagle, Vail, Frisco and the Denver Federal Center.
A one-way, full-price fare from Glenwood Springs to Denver is $28; discounts are available for senior and disabled passengers, and booklets of 10, 20 and 40 tickets offer up to a 25 percent discount. Lower fares are also offered for passengers just traveling to or from Eagle, Vail or Frisco.
The Green Line will run from Fort Collins and Loveland to Denver and back, and the Orange Line will run from Colorado Springs and Monument to Denver and back. The Green and Orange lines will have five departures per weekday in each direction.
The sleek black 50-passenger coaches, with a bright purple mustang horse image, will be equipped with restrooms, bike racks and WiFi, and will be handicap-accessible.
New DOE videos explain
how energy works
The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has posted on YouTube a new series of educational videos that help explain the nature and role of energy in the world. They’re suitable for classroom enrichment, and for adults looking for an easy refresher.
The videos, just 5 to 6 minutes long, walk viewers through the seven basic principles of energy. The first four in the energy literacy series is now available, and the other three are slated for release next spring.
The videos were produced in partnership with the American Geosciences Institute’s Center for Geoscience and Society and the National Center for Science Education.
In addition to the energy literacy videos, EERE provides other resources, including K-12 lesson plans that help educators teach students about energy, and energy basics web content that clearly explains how renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies work. EERE also offers the Get Current coloring book, available in English and Spanish.
IN THE NEWS
Vail Daily, Nov. 23, 2014
Casey Zwaan travels a lot. His company, Beaver Divers, often takes groups to some of the most environmentally-sensitive places on earth. That’s why he’s trying to help the oceans by making some changes at his business in the mountains.
Beaver Divers is a participant in Actively Green 2015, a joint effort between the Vail Valley Foundation, the Walking Mountain Science Center and other partners to boost environmentally sustainable programs and projects in time for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.
Denver Business Journal, Dec. 8, 2014
Colorado utility regulators on Monday shot down Xcel Energy Inc.'s quest to start a new solar power program, called Solar*Connect, that would have allowed customers to pay a premium on their monthly utility bills to support solar energy.
Denver Business Journal, Dec. 15, 2014
Xcel Energy inc.'s Colorado customers will see about a 1 percent decrease in monthly electricity and natural gas bills in the first quarter of 2015, based on lower fuel costs, the utility told state regulators on Dec. 15.
TODAY IN ENERGY: Dec. 10, 2014
California leads the nation in the adoption of electric vehicles
In 2013, there were about 70,000 battery electric vehicles and 104,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles—small numbers compared to around 226 million registered vehicles in the United States. Total U.S. sales of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) have increased in recent years, but still represent only about 0.7% of new vehicle sales in 2014 so far.
See map and read more...
TODAY IN ENERGY: Dec. 11, 2014
Several states adding or increasing incentives for electric vehicle charging stations
Electric vehicles are limited by driving range, which is related to battery capacity, and can usually travel between 60 and 200 miles before recharging. Charging infrastructure is crucial to the success of electric vehicles.
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