The city and county I live in in Colorado are known for being at the leading edge of a lot of things, some of which I don’t agree with and occasionally make national news. However, they have pioneered a ClimateSmart program that many other local governments, counties, states and the federal government are studying. It is a bonding program that allows homeowners to borrow to do energy-efficiency upgrades – insulation, solar, wind, air conditioning, furnace, hot water heater among them. The end goal is to reduce the growth of local greenhouse gas emissions. But it is also benefiting the local economy.
Through this program, I was able to get an energy audit from my utility (Xcel), and then go directly to contractors to get projects that were approved for energy-efficiency upgrades. I got in on the second round of a $40-million bonding program that county voters approved for both residential and commercial building improvements. In effect, I get a low-interest loan spread over 20 years (or less with no pre-payment penalty) to upgrade my building.
The impact on the participating local HVACR, insulation and other related contractors has been significant – and not just for solar or other alternative energy upgrades. They, in turn, are ordering products from their suppliers that they would not otherwise be ordering right now. Through this program I’m able to finance about $14,000 in upgrades my house needed anyway, and the net to me is adding about $200 to my monthly house payments in the form of an assessment attached to the property.