Energy Advisory Service, Rebates and Microloans – Boulder County

Location: Colorado, USA

Population: 326,196 (2019)

Climate: Subtropical Steppe Climate

Duration: 2010-, still ongoing [source]

Sector:  Buildings

Funding sources: Public

City networks: N/A

Savings: Annual energy savings average about 78 therms and 296 kWh per household; as of Jan 2022, the EnergySmart program has served 18490 homes in Boulder County.

Solutions: Use free energy audit advice, rebate, and microloans to motivate homeowners to take energy efficiency retrofit actions.

Multiple benefits: Improved indoor thermal comfort and health benefits; local job creation; improved social equity; climate change mitigation.

Objective – to stimulate local economic growth, increase energy efficiency investment, and advance energy independence through large-scale energy upgrades in the commercial and residential sectors.

Solutions – After receiving the $25 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant in May 2010, Boulder County, the cities of Boulder and Longmont, and Xcel Energy collaborated to develop the EnergySmart program based on some previous work. EnergySmart for Boulder County helps residents identify, finance, and schedule energy improvements in their homes.

This “One Stop Shop” aims to reduce the hassles and hurdles associated with improving a home’s energy efficiency by providing an energy advisor to each participant at no cost. The advisor serves as a guide and advocate by scheduling a home energy assessment, installing free energy conservation materials, identifying and applying for all applicable incentives, and coordinating work through an approved list of contractors.

Rebates of up to $250 per home are available for participants for taking low-cost measures or buying specific products. For owners of multiple units, total rebates are limited to $1000 per owner. Any product or installation must meet current ENERGY STAR® standards at a minimum if such standards exist for that given product or application.

The Advisor helps select contractors, reviews proposals with the homeowners, and helps the homeowner apply for all available government and utility rebates, tax credits and financing options to lower the cost of these improvements.

To help pay for the upgrades, the program offers special low-interest “microloans” of $500-$5000. The 2.5% interest rate on these loans covers administrative costs. The loan repayment schedules are based on the amount of the principal balance: one year for up to $1,500; two years for $1,501-$3,000; and three years for $3,001-$5,000.

EnergySmart’s original goals were to serve at least 10,000 homes and 3,000 businesses served by the end of 2013. After the goals were successfully achieved, $7.1 million of the original grant funds are continually held as a loan-loss reserve supporting $35 million in financing for home and business energy improvements. EnergySmart will continue with local funding to expand services beyond energy efficiency to also assist residents and businesses with water conservation, recycling and composting.

FundingThe initial funding was a $12.5 million, 3-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Program from 2010-2012.

Innovation – One-stop service to support energy efficiency actions by homeowners and multi-home property owners (up to five homes). The technical support by energy advisors is combined with rebates for energy-efficient product and equipment purchase and low-cost loans for energy upgrades.

Success factors – (1) The service package combines both technical and financial solutions to incentivize energy efficiency actions by homeowners; (2) the continuity of the program that has been running and expanding since 2011; (3) the low-interest loan enables the program to be able to recover some of its funding and hence continue.

Significant outcomes

  • As of January 2022, the EnergySmart program has offered $2,034,008 of rebate and served 18490 homes.
  • Annual energy savings average about 224 m3 of natural gas and 296 kWh of electricity per household.

Synergies with local policies:

  • The program is aligned with the local government policy of stimulating local economic growth and improving its energy independence.

Political alignment:

  • Nationwide policy of improving energy efficiency and clean energy transition;
  • National policy of stimulating economic growth.

Marketability: N/A

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Sector: Buildings

Country / Region: United States

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In 1 user collection: Good practices of cities

Knowledge Object: User generated Initiative

Published by: Southwest Energy Efficiency Project