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safe-warm-winterWe’re fortunate in Southern Colorado to have relatively mild winters. However, even mildly cold days and nights can be unbearable if your house can’t keep you warm and there is usually at least a week or two of brutally cold temperatures when you will want to make sure your home is well prepared.

The Energy Resource Center can do a home energy audit to help you identify energy leaks and inefficiencies and make upgrades that will help your family reduce the winter utility bill. Our assistance is free for income-qualified residents and available for a small fee for those who don’t qualify.

If you want to tackle some home winterizing on your own, we have a few pointers for you:

Safety first

Heating a leaky and inefficient old Colorado house might not just be expensive and uncomfortable. It could also be dangerous.

  • Carbon monoxide detectors – These alarms will alert you when there are dangerous levels of this deadly colorless, odorless gas. Carbon monoxide is released into the air when fuels are burned and improperly ventilated. This can happen easily with wood-burning fireplaces and aging furnaces.
  • Clean your chimney – Debris and blockages in your chimney can force smoke and dangerous gases back into your home.
  • Replace or clean your furnace filters – Clogged filters don’t just make your furnace inefficient and expensive to run. They could also create safety issues and damage your furnace.
  • Get your furnace inspected – Before you start the winter, have a professional look at your furnace and recommend maintenance or cleaning.

Seal it up

Coloradans use so much energy trying in vain to heat homes that won’t retain the heat. Many homes in the state are poorly insulated and constructed with careless gaps that let cold air seep in during the winter.

  • Windows – The U.S. Department of Energy reports that 10 percent of household energy that’s lost or wasted leaks through the windows. You can prevent that inefficiency by caulking around your windows and applying weather stripping. You can also install storm windows if you have older single-pane windows in your home.
  • Holes in the walls – The DOE reports that 30 percent of home heating is lost through holes in the wall or gaps around water pipes and electrical wiring that goes through the walls, ceiling and floors. Use foam insulation or caulk to seal these up. It’s a low-cost and easy way to eliminate some of the most egregious leaks.
  • Insulation – Colorado homes are notoriously poorly insulated. Adding insulation to the ceiling or even blowing it into exterior walls can make a tremendous difference in your home’s efficiency and ability to keep you and your family comfortable.

If you would like help identifying or implementing energy-saving efforts this winter, contact the Energy Resource Center. The fees we collect for our services support our nonprofit efforts and we offer free home energy audits and complete weatherization for income-qualified residents of El Paso, Denver, Jefferson Teller, Fremont, Elbert, Douglas, Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Saguache and Rio Grande counties. 

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