Free tools to save you money and energy

Free Energy Film and Workshop

By Irene Shonle

Despite what the calendar says, winter has pretty much arrived here in the high country. That means our wood piles are stacked high, our winter coats have migrated to the front of the closet, and some people are thinking about the ski season to come.

It also means the time of year that money flies out the door with our energy bills. In Colorado, 54% of our energy dollars go towards heating homes and businesses, and this number is no doubt much higher up here. Even if you heat entirely with wood, and don’t count your labor costs, energy bills still go up in the winter because longer nights require more light.

Fortunately, the Clean Energy Team at CSU Extension has been working on some free calculators and decision tools to help you figure out how to get the best bang for your hard-earned buck. These can all be found here:

Now that there are more low-energy bulbs on the market than just CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs), you may be unsure which makes the most sense to buy. The indoor lighting calculator can make that decision easier. You may be contemplating insulation, or a low-flow showerhead, or whether it’s worth it to wrap your hot water heater. You may also wonder how much electricity you waste when your appliances aren’t even on! There are helpful tools to work you through each of these decision points on the home energy efficiency page:

For those of you on natural gas or all-electricity, there is also an Energy Bill Analysis and more (Ebam) calculator. Because it requires the user to enter in monthly energy usage, it doesn’t work for those with propane tanks or wood heat. It will help you to figure out your base load, how much you spend on heating, and what you could save with insulation, upgrading to a more efficient furnace, and more.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind readers that we have free home energy audit kits to loan out – these consist of an infrared leak detector, a power monitor, and more! Call us at 303-582-9106 to reserve yours today.

Finally, come to the great FREE energy workshop in Clear Creek County (with very easy access for Gilpinites – at Mountain Tool and Feed, at the intersection of I-70 and the Central City Parkway) on Nov 9 from 9- noon.  Pre-registration required: 970-491-6281. In conjunction with this, there is a special FREE showing of Switch, the film that is changing the global energy conversation – Saturday, Nov 2, 7:00 pm at the United Center,1440 Colorado Blvd. Idaho Springs. For more information, call 303-679-2424.

Irene Shonle is Director of the CSU Extension in Gilpin County, located at the Exhibit Barn, 230 Norton Drive, Black Hawk, CO 80422, 303-582-9106,

Colorado State University Extension provides unbiased, research-based information about, horticulture, natural resources, and 4-H youth development. Colorado State University Extension is dedicated to serving all people on an equal and nondiscriminatory basis.

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