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Denver - Winter is almost here and that means two things: great skiing and high energy bills. So the Colorado Public interest Research Group (CoPIRG) released a new report that highlights policies that state leaders can implement to reduce statewide energy consumption and keep money in Coloradans pockets.
“While many Coloradans will try to battle their bills by turning down their heat and wearing sweaters, that can only do so much because the biggest factors are the design of the home/business and the efficiency of the gadgets inside,” said Keelin Kelly, Energy Associate with CoPIRG. “So we are releasing a report that demonstrates policies that the new Governor and state legislators can pursue that will help homeowners and businesses improve efficiency and cut their energy costs.”
The new report, Smart Savings: Practical Energy Efficiency Policies that Will Save Coloradans Money, highlights ten different policies. One policy, estimated to save consumers $200-$400 annually, is the creation and adoption of an energy efficiency rating system for rental property, homes and office spaces. The display of a rating would allow consumers to save money by taking the energy efficiency of a property into account and avoiding the most inefficient properties. In addition, more landlords and property owners would have a financial incentive to invest in energy efficient upgrades.
“Too often, you are kept in the dark about the efficiency of your new apartment until you move in and start receiving your energy bills and at that point it is too late,” said Kelly. “This problem is most pronounced in the rental market where many landlords do not pay the energy bills and therefore have not invested in energy saving measures, leaving consumers with unnecessarily high energy bills.”
One set of consumers who are most affected by this lack of transparency is college students.
“As a student, I am always looking for ways to save money,” said Victoria Kraft a University of Colorado-Boulder senior who rents an apartment. “However, I have unknowingly rented very inefficient apartments with high energy costs. A policy requiring that a uniform, energy efficiency rating would help students like me take energy costs into account and encourage landlords to invest more in reducing energy.”
Other policies CoPIRG’s report highlighted include:
- Requiring homebuilders offer an energy efficient home as an option when working with home buyers to develop and construct new homes.
- Setting an energy efficiency standard for televisions.
- Setting a statewide energy reduction goal that incorporates all utilities. Currently only Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy have an energy reduction goal of 10% by 2020 and only a handful of others are moving in the same direction.
CoPIRG released the report in front of a set of affordable, energy efficient apartments in the Stapleton neighborhood of Denver. Joining them at the event to walk through the energy saving technology that went into the developments was Gene Myers, the chief executive officer of New Town Builders.
“This report is right on target with its message that more can be done to save consumers money, and the efforts can be more inclusive of all homeowners on all economic levels,” said Myers. “At New Town Builders, one of our main goals is to help point the way.”
CoPIRG will be hosting a briefing for state leaders in early December to educate them about the current energy efficiency lay-of-the-land in Colorado and the policy options in their report. They hope policy makers will put as much attention into energy efficiency in the coming months as they have renewable energy.
“In Colorado, we use far more energy than we need to. Smart policies, targeted at cutting the state’s energy use, will put money back in Coloradans wallets,” concluded Kelly.
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