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HomeRx diagnoses your energy use

Efficiency audit can reduce costs
As part of an energy efficiency project managed by the Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency, Floyd Martinez and Chad Devore install new windows at the Animas Village Apartments. 4CORE runs a program called HomeRx, which assesses a home’s energy use and provides strategies for homeowners to reduce energy consumption and expenses.

As the days of open windows turn into long nights of running heaters, a local nonprofit is urging homeowners to run a quick and easy energy efficiency assessment that could save up to $377 annually on utility bills.

Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency (4CORE) runs a program called HomeRx, an energy efficiency assessment for residential homes available to anyone in Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan counties.

As part of the program, a locally certified energy auditor makes home visits that last about four to five hours. During that time, the auditor tests for a number of energy-saving factors, including appliances, insulation level, lighting and air leaking.

“It gives a good idea of simple things you can do and how much money you can save on utility bills,” said Sarah Rank, a program coordinator for 4CORE.

Rank said homes are ranked for efficiency on a scale of 1 to 10, and in Southwest Colorado, the average home receives a score of less than five. In 2015, more than 30 homes have already been assessed.

“We have a lot of older homes in our area, for one,” Rank reasoned on the region’s low rankings. “Air leaks in wintertime especially can be exaggerated because of the temperature differences between inside and outside. You’re just losing heat you’re paying for through those leaks.”

Dick White, a Durango City Council member, had his 90-year-old home assessed a few weeks ago. He said he’s been a smart energy advocate for years, and he wanted to make sure his home was in tow.

“It was a very thorough examination of pretty much every aspect of the house,” he said. “The beauty of it is, it’s a prioritized list, where they rate where you can get the most bang for your buck.”

White said one important piece of the assessment is the safety inspection. The auditor found a gas leak behind the dryer White and his wife were unable to locate.

Rank said about 80 percent of the homes in the area come back with some sort of significant health and safety issue, ranging anywhere from high carbon monoxide levels to gas leaks.

“It’s important to identify those sorts of things in the winter time when people spend more time inside,” she said.

Audits cost $525, but Rank said there are many rebate offers that could save homeowners up to $300 on that price. Those opportunities can be found on 4CORE’s website, under the “Residential” tab.

On Tuesday, the nonprofit asked the City Council for $7,000 in additional funding for the HomeRx program. The council will vote on the city’s 2016 budget in December.

White, examining the possible energy-saving options on his house, stressed the importance of taking into context costs up front when long-term energy-efficient solutions are on the table.

“It’s really hard to get people to invest in efficiency, even though it saves them in the long term,” he said. “But you can really save some money.”


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