Demand for subsidized energy-saving home repairs heats up in Colorado
November 9, 2009
COLORADO SPRINGS – Colorado nonprofits that help lower home energy bills say the lines are long and growing for free energy-saving home repairs paid with federal stimulus money.
The state is getting some $3.6 million from the federal stimulus law for weatherization, or helping homes conserve energy by such repairs as improving insulation or replacing old furnaces.
The Energy Resource Center in Colorado Springs said about 15 people a day call seeking help. At this rate, they may not get help until winter is over. The agency said the wait list is three months to six months long.
In Denver, a charity that helps the poor keep their houses warm said its being stretched thin by 21,000 requests for help this winter.
“We’re concerned, not knowing whether it’s going to be colder or not, and with the economic uncertainty, how families are going to cope with their energy bills this winter,” said Jennifer Gremmert, deputy director of Energy Outreach Colorado.
Requests for federal help to pay home heating bills also are expected to rise. Applications for federal heating assistance could see a 15 percent increase in Colorado over last winter, according to The Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs.
Last year, about 105,740 households in Colorado received money from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
At the Energy Resource Center, executive director Howard O. Brooks said wait lines are long, but that people who qualify would eventually get the repairs. Brooks said his group expects to help about 1,000 homeowners, apartment dwellers and mobile home residents, up from 355 last year.
“We’ve come across some dangerous situations – people heating their home with their ovens or bringing propane gas grills indoors for heat, which is very unsafe,” Brooks told The Gazette. “I like to say we keep people warm and safe.”
Recipients for free aid must meet income standards, usually about 200 percent of the federal poverty level, depending on the program. Homeowners who don’t qualify can still benefit from federal assistance by getting tax rebates for buying energy-efficient appliances.