What’s the cost of carbon? 350 members know it’s record-breaking heat waves, superstorms and unprecedented wildfire just to name a few. One could argue that the climate cost of greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacture and transport of goods along with the use of fossil fuels for energy essentially outweigh their purchase price.

Energy Saved is Money Earned

Let’s start with the easy stuff. If you haven’t already, change all the lights in your home to LED bulbs. Xcel discounts these at local retailers with prices under a dollar per bulb. Look for a “warm white” color temperature between 2700K and 4000K for a more natural look.

Sun shading can keep the sun’s heat from inside your home. Deciduous trees planted on the south side of a home will block sunlight in summer while bare branches allow sunshine through in winter when its welcome. Canopies, trellises and other sun shading devices can protect your home from strong Colorado sun.

Natural ventilation is your best bet for staying cool. Perhaps supplemented by an Energy-star certified ceiling fan, evaporative or “swamp” cooler that takes advantage of Colorado’s reliably dry climate. As water evaporates it cools the air around it; air flow is important. And follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations to prevent any mold or mildew.

If your summer utility bills are high and your air conditioning system is more than ten years old, you might consider upgrading to an efficient heat pump. Heat pumps are like air conditioners that can heat and cool, representing the state of the art in electrically powered thermal control. They utilize a compressor and refrigerant loop to absorb heat from air or water in one place and release it in another. Precision engineering, controls, and manufacturing have improved performance and efficiency of today’s heat pumps while lowering operating costs. Installing a heat pump – along with proper air-sealing and insulation is a big step toward decarbonizing your home. Contact me directly at the address below if you need any help.

Unlike programmable thermostats that run a fixed program of preset temperature setpoints, smart thermostats utilize a machine learning algorithm to monitor occupancy, desired setpoints and other parameters to maximize comfort while saving energy. Xcel sells a variety of models at $50 off that integrate with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit or Google Assistant. The Emerson, Honeywell and ecobee3 ‘lite’ version lacks the eco+ upgrade that claims to “supercharge ecobee thermostats for maximum efficiency with minimal effort.” Homeowners with heat pumps should consider the Nest 3rd Gen learning thermostat for its “heat pump balance” feature that offers better control of auxiliary heat at lower ambient temperatures. After discounts, the top of the line Nest is about $30 more than the ecobee4.

Rebates and Incentives

Boulder County homeowners should sign up at EnergySmartYes.com for free energy and money saving advice along with incentives for energy-saving upgrades. The cities of Boulder, Lafayette and Longmont offer additional rebates that be combined with county and utility rebates.

All Xcel Energy customers, regardless of location can take advantage of rebates on efficient air conditioning equipment. The Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) rebate (up to $500) is listed under “Cooling Rebates.”

Conservation Starts at Home

When feathering your nest ask yourself if you really need that shiny new object. Is there an alternative product not manufactured overseas? The embodied carbon of a product that’s transported halfway around the world is huge. Instead explore any of the numerous second hand and consignment shops in the region. Clutter in Boulder has quality furniture and artwork while Front Range Mercantile in Longmont is a good source for vintage tools and hardware. Your consignments and purchases at Greenwood Wildlife Thrift Shop in Boulder go toward Colorado wildlife rehabilitation.

Join a Movement

A home running at peak efficiency can save you money and keep you cool, but nothing’s cooler than being part of a movement. Please consider joining one of 350 Colorado’s committees or campaigns to help us achieve the carbon-free future that we know is possible.

Ron Bennett, AIA
Decabonization Advocate