Roadmap to Renewable Living: Four Actions With Impact
Transitioning your household off fossil fuels can positively impact your health AND save you money. If you want to take climate action at a household level, these four actions—maximizing your energy efficiency, powering your life with renewable energy, electrifying your heating and cooling, and clean transportation-- really add up and make a difference.
All of these actions may be things you will need to tackle anyway. Most of our household energy systems—water heaters, furnaces, cars—fail without warning. This causes unexpected costs, inconveniences and even dangerous situations. Further, in a crisis, our options are often limited and more expensive. By considering your options now, you don’t have to wait for an emergency to make the best choice—one which can have big benefits for you and for the planet.
Looking for some extra help taking each step? Check out the Resources below each action, as well as at the bottom of the page, for advising programs, incentives and more!
When your house is better sealed against temperature changes, not only is it more comfortable for you and your family, but you also save money on energy costs. Efficiency measure like air sealing and attic insulation make our homes more energy-efficient while also ensuring it’s pleasant for everyone inside. Maximizing your energy efficiency involves tackling things like improving air sealing, more efficient windows and adding insulation. These measures help the heated or cooled air you paid for stay in your home or business!
- Not sure where to start? The EnergySmart program is a great one-stop shop for energy efficiency improvement help. An energy advisor can answer questions and guide you through the process of energy efficiency upgrades—from prioritizing projects to finding contractors and applying for incentives or financing!
Solar panels on your home help build local energy infrastructure and create clean energy for you to use. The cost of solar panels continues to go down, meaning a home array is more affordable than ever. Having solar on your home means predictable and decreased monthly electricity costs, while also powering your home and potentially your car with clean energy right from the sun. Systems can be sized specifically to meet your home and/or transportation energy needs.
- Read more about all your options, including financing and permits, on our How to Go Solar page
- Want to know your home’s solar potential? If you live in the City of Boulder, our Mapdwell solar tool can help you see if solar is right for your home
- Learn more about the city's solar grant and solar rebate program to find out if you quality for a solar grant or for a sales and use tax rebate on already installed solar.
- EnergySmart energy advisors can answer questions and guide you through the process of installing solar from finding contractors to applying for incentives or financing. They can also guide you on whether you qualify for EnergySmart IQ's solar rebates.
Walking, biking and bussing are all great ways to get around town, but if you’re looking for another option, electric vehicles (EVs) have come a long way in a short period of time!
Electric vehicles have longer ranges than ever, and with increased investment in charging infrastructure across Colorado and beyond, they can be a great option to meet many people's needs. Because they don’t burn anything to create movement, electric cars are safer, cleaner and significantly more energy and cost-efficient. Electric vehicles also have fewer parts to maintain or replace, resulting in lower maintenance costs over time.
These reduced costs mean real money savings. The average electric vehicle in Boulder, charging off the grid, costs around $.20/mi to operate. By comparison, the average gas powered car costs $.45/mi or more. If a household produced its own electricity off of solar, the costs of driving an EV would be even lower!
Not only can you save big on maintenance and fuel costs, but they are incredibly fun to drive. If you drive an EV, pairing this move with solar so you’re driving on clean energy is especially impactful.
- Did you know that there is EV advising available to walk you through what options are right for you, including tax savings and charging options? Contact EnergySmart for one-on-one help to answer questions, assess your needs and receive expert advice from a non-sales person.
- Learn more about your charging options in Boulder on our Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations page.
- GO Boulder can help you explore the many multi-modal ways of getting around town
Many homes have furnaces and water heaters that burn natural gas—inside our homes. Besides health and safety issues, many older systems are inefficient, which adds up when heating and cooling alone can account for almost half of your home’s energy use!
Once you’re running on clean electricity, it’s also important to consider the fuel source of your appliances, since there can be a big difference in climate impact between powering them with clean, renewable electricity vs. with non-renewable natural gas.
Using clean, renewable electricity, electric heat pumps can provide both heating (space and water) and cooling. This feature is especially important because summers in Boulder are already getting warmer. The projected days over 95 have already doubled in the last 20 years (from 4 to over 8) and are projected to double again in the next 15-20 years. Using a high efficiency heat pump can keep your home comfortable and your energy bills affordable.
- EnergySmart energy advisors can answer questions and guide you through the process of replacing appliances, including finding contractors and applying for incentives or financing.
Financing: Elevations Energy Loans can be used for a wide range of energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades including solar PV, windows, insulation, heating, cooling and water heating. These low-interest loans can be combined with EnergySmart rebates to fully fund your home energy efficiency upgrades.
EnergySmart IQ: The EnergySmart IQ program provides enhanced incentives for income qualifying homeowners who are looking to undertake energy efficiency or solar PV improvements to their homes.