October 30 is Weatherization Day, and Energy Outreach Colorado is proud to partner with the state Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) to help low-income households save energyand improve the comfort of their homes.
EOC staff inspect energy efficient equipment at a Denver affordable housing community.
Since 1976, WAP has provided free energy efficiency services to qualifying families and seniors in all 64Colorado counties. This is done by conducting energy audits, replacing insulation and inefficient appliances, and sealing homes. Each year the program serves about 3,000 Colorado households and helps residents save $200-$500 on their annual utility bill.
The eight regional agencies that provide WAP services include:
The Energy Resource Center
Northeastern Colorado Association of Local Governments
Pueblo County Dept. of Housing and Human Services
Housing Resources of Western Colorado
Northwest Colorado Council of Governments
Boulder County Housing Authority’s Longs Peak Energy Conservation
Arapahoe County Weatherization Division
Energy Outreach Colorado (Statewide, centrally-heated, multifamily building projects)
The harder single mom Carolyn worked to provide for her three children, the further behind it seemed she got.
Divorced for six years, with little to no child support, she put in long hours as a nurse’s assistant at Lutheran Medical Center and Boulder Community Center. Then, without warning, $300 a month was garnished from her paycheck toward previous debts incurred by her ex-husband.
“I tried to pay at least $20 a month on the light bill, but all of a sudden one day we had no electricity – no stove, no air conditioning, no refrigerator,” she said. “It was summer, the kids were eating like there was no tomorrow, and we had a lot of food spoil, including meat and eggs.”
Luckily, Carolyn’s mom lived blocks away from them in Lafayette and they could spend a few nights with her. Even better, Energy Outreach Colorado helped pay off her over-due energy bill so she could start with a clean slate.
“I cried and cried when I found out my bill was paid,” she said. “I really have no words to express my thanks to those who helped us. I never would have been able to get back on my feet without this help.”
Carolyn’s goal is to work hard to build an emergency fund so she isn’t “caught in this situation again.”
“My kids have learned a lot from this,” she added. “It has made them want to help somebody else in the future. We’re all human, things happen, and if we’re in a positive situation we will help.”
We’re king of the hill, top of the heap…
And ranked number 1 on Charity Navigator's Consecutive Top Ratinigs List.
We’re proud to announce that our support of affordable home energy for Coloradans recently earned a 15th consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, an independent evaluator of thousands of American charities.
Energy Outreach Colorado was recognized for ongoing fiscal excellence and being “well-positioned to pursue and achieve long-term change.”
If that wasn’t amazing enough, we also were awarded a Longevity Certificate by the Better Business Bureau Denver/Boulder for our 11 years of “continuous focus on integrity through accreditation – recognition provided to charities that have been BBB accredited for 10 or more consecutive years.”
Experience counts. And you can count on Energy Outreach Colorado to continue our work to make home energy affordable for everyone in Colorado.
Energy Outreach Colorado is our name, and affordable home energy is our game.
October is a big month for us because of its designation as National Energy Action Month, and because October 30 is National Weatherization Day. This is our chance to shine a light on the importance of smart energy choices and their impact on our economy, environment and energy independence.
EOC supports affordable energy in Colorado by helping thousands of limited-income families and seniors reduce energy use, gain access to energy efficiency technologies, and use energy more smartly.
We’re fortunate to partner with the Colorado Energy Office and its Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) network. Together, we install energy efficiency improvements in affordable housing communities across the state to make them more efficient as well as healthier and safer.
We also provide no-cost home energy audits and weatherization improvements to qualifying households through our participation in CARE - Colorado's Affordable Residential Energy Program. .
This important work is recognized each Oct. 30 on National Weatherization Day. This year marks the 40th anniversary of highlighting the importance of improving the energy efficiency of homes for low-income families.
As of 2015, EOC has saved low-income utility customers about 226,000 dekatherms of natural gas and 129.2 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) through our programs. This is equivalent to avoiding nearing 28,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Pictured at left, EOC's Michael Harris inspecting the installation of efficiency lightiing.
We are in our 27th year of providing energy assistance to Coloradans. Our other affordable energy programs include the Crisis Intervention Program, which repairs the nonworking heating systems of low-income households; and energy efficiency programs to install improvements in single family homes, affordable housing and nonprofit facilities. More information is available at http://www.energyoutreach.org/grants.
Energy Outreach Colorado is grateful to Mark Sunderhuse, a retiring board member, supporter and friend, for his 16 years of service to our mission of helping Coloradans afford home energy.
Mark, a managing director and portfolio manager with Red Rocks Capital, has been instrumental in advancing our work to support the energy needs of low-income families and seniors, and lending his expertise to increase the impact EOC has across the state. Thank you, Mark, for your invaluable contributions.
Pictured, Skip Arnold, left, EOC executive director, thanks Mark Sunderhuse for his 16 years supporting the organization.
Energy assistance made it possible for Melissa and her kids to come home safely.
They’d been desperate for several days after the power in their apartment was shut off, unable to keep food refrigerated, access the Internet for work and school, run the garbage disposal. They’d relied on spending long, tiring days across town with family members, coming home late at night to dark rooms and cold showers.
“I felt like I was losing my mind,” said Melissa, a single parent with a toddler and a 13 year-old. “I was at a total loss and didn’t know what to do.”
Thanks to the kindness and caring of EOC donors, she received support during this dark time through energy bill payment assistance. Rather than continue to face more dangerous choices like getting behind on rent, she and her girls felt blessed to turn on the lights and move forward.
“It was an amazing ending to that nightmare,” Melissa said. It was one of the few bright moments she’s had in a difficult year marked by the devastating death of her mother, a brutal assault on her teenager and the unexpected loss of her job.
“It’s been a really rough time for us,” she said. “I just needed help catching up.”
Home energy is literally a life and death matter for Gary, a homebound senior suffering from severe emphysema and diabetes.
“I’m alive – that’s what energy assistance has done for me,” he said. “A lot of elderly people wouldn’t be alive without the help of others who care and give extra.”
Contributions to Energy Outreach Colorado make it possible for Gary and thousands of other disabled Colorado seniors to maintain the electricity they need for 24-hour oxygen supply, refrigeration, light and other basic necessities.
Gary tries to stretch his $1,019 monthly income from Medicaid and Social Security disability benefits to meet his expenses, but “sometimes it comes down to utilities or food.” That and other dangerous choices often keep limited-income families and seniors like Gary up at night, worrying about the impact of rising costs.
“I started working when I was 14,” he said, recalling his youth in eastern Colorado and college years at Metro State College, where he studied microbiology and literature. He later worked as an X-ray technician for nuclear plants; then he completed training with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to pursue affordable housing management and development.
Now 64, he rents an apartment in a Denver affordable housing community and relies on the help of his caretaker, Luis. “Denver is getting more expensive all the time,” Gary said. “The influx of people is at an unbelievable rate and costs keep going up.”
Pictured at top: Gary, right, and caregiver Luis.
Dedicated bicyclists representing Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are pedaling and raising money Sept. 16-18 to support Energy Outreach Colorado’s work to help struggling Coloradans pay their heating bills this winter.
The Touchstone Energy Cooperatives’ team - Powering the Plains – is participating in the 5th annual three-day Pedal the Plains Bicycle Tour across northeastern Colorado. The electric co-ops also are co-sponsoring the tour, which begins and ends in Ordway and goes through Fowler and La Junta. The co-ops will have an energy education booth in each community and sponsor a $100 gift card drawing each day.
To support the Powering the Plains team’s efforts to raise funds for EOC’s affordable home energy programs, please visit for information about donating via check or PayPal. Energy Outreach Colorado thanks Powering the Plains for their amazing commitment to helping keep families and seniors warm and safe in their homes.
This article, written by freelancer Jen Kinney, is reprinted with permission from Next City, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring social, economic and environmental change in cities through journalism and events around the world.
Low-income, black, Latino and renter households all face a greater energy burden — the percentage of income spent on home energy bills — than the average family, according to a new study. Co-authored by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and The Energy Efficiency for All Coalition, the report looks at energy costs for households in the largest 48 U.S. cities.
It finds that the median U.S. energy burden across all those cities was 3.5 percent, but the median low-income household (making less than 80 percent of area median income) faced an energy burden more than twice as high: 7.2 percent. Black households experienced the second-highest energy burden (5.4 percent), followed by low-income households in multifamily buildings (5.0 percent), Latino households (4.1 percent) and renting households (4 percent).
On average, the highest burdens were concentrated in Southeast and Midwest cities. Memphis, New Orleans, Birmingham, Atlanta and Philadelphia topped the list of cities with the highest energy burdens for low-income and minority households. Cincinnati, Columbus, Dallas, Fort Worth, Hartford, Kansas City, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Providence and St. Louis also made the top 15.
Energy inefficiency in housing stock was a large factor determining energy burden. The report found that for low-income and multifamily low-income households, bringing energy efficiency up to that of the median U.S. household would eliminate 35 percent of excess energy burden. For black, Latino and renting households, raising energy efficiency to the median could reduce burdens by 42, 68 and 97 percent, respectively.
The report, “Lifting the High Energy Burden in America’s Largest Cities,” says improving energy efficiency incentive programs for low-income and minority households provides many benefits, including improved health and safety, reduced costs associated with shutoffs and overdue bills for customers, and local job creation for communities. Currently these programs are underutilized, particularly by low-income households. The authors of the report recommend improved and expanded programs for low-income communities, better collection of demographic data on program participation, and better leverage of existing programs like the Clean Power Plan, which sets limits on carbon emissions from power plants.
The authors also recommend extending these programs to include renters, particularly those in multifamily units, not just homeowners in single-family units. Because access to capital is a significant barrier to joining these programs, allowing on-bill repayment so that all costs don’t need to be paid upfront could boost participation. The programs could also be integrated better with other incentive and rebate programs, like weatherization. Once implemented, the report says utilities should track who is participating to influence program marketing and outreach strategies.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE EOC BLOG