Veterans Green Jobs’ Weatherization Program in the San Luis Valley provides much-needed weatherization services for homes in the poorest, most rural geographic area in the state of Colorado. Through a contract with the Colorado Energy Office, Veterans Green Jobs is helping income-qualified households in the San Luis Valley increase their energy efficiency and make their homes safer. Veterans Green Jobs’ services help make residents more comfortable in winter and summer, reduce utility bills, increase health and safety, and lower their carbon footprint – resulting in a positive environmental impact.
WHAT IS WEATHERIZATION?
Weatherization involves making changes to a home’s building shell and heating and cooling systems in order to reduce energy usage and replace outdated and unsafe furnaces and other appliances. These services – which may include home energy audits, insulation upgrades, air leak sealing, and installation of high-efficiency appliances such as furnaces and refrigerators – help residents ensure that their homes, heating systems and appliances are operating at maximum efficiency. This ultimately improves the comfort and health of their home, and saves them money.
WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP FOR COLORADO
The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) has established itself as a pioneer in weatherization programs. In partnership with 11 agencies – including Veterans Green Jobs – the CEO provides energy upgrade services to income-qualified households across the state. With plans to weatherize more than 10,000 homes, the CEO’s work will result in the reduction of utility bills for families who benefit most from the savings, long-term energy-saving improvements in the Colorado housing market, the addition of jobs across the state, and a substantial reduction of pollution and carbon emissions.
In addition to providing free weatherization upgrades through the CEO, Veterans Green Jobs’ San Luis Valley program has a contract with the Colorado Department of Human Services’ Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) to provide crisis intervention heat restoration services. In 2009 alone, 149 homes were provided with these emergency services.
Through the CEO, Veterans Green Jobs partners with the San Luis Valley Rural Electrical Cooperative and Xcel Energy. Both of these utility companies contribute money to the program for the purchase of energy-saving appliances, low-flow showerheads, automatic thermostats and compact fluorescent lightbulbs. All of these products further increase energy and dollar savings for Veterans Green Jobs’ clients.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program provides funding to states, U.S. overseas territories and Indian tribal governments to enable low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. Since 1977, the Weatherization Assistance Program has provided weatherization services to more than 6.4 million low-income households, which see their annual energy bills reduced by an average of $437*.
CREATING EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES THAT SERVE OUR COMMUNITIES AND ENVIRONMENT
With a goal of hiring veterans to make homes more energy efficient, Veterans Green Jobs is leading former service men and women toward a career pathway that enables them to have more employment choices in one of the fastest growing industry sectors of our time – and one that promises sustainability and economic opportunity for generations to come. By hiring both veterans and non-veterans to complete this work together, we help veterans transition into civilian society and continue serving our communities and environment.
HOW THE FREE WEATHERIZATION PROGRAM WORKS
To determine whether they qualify for free weatherization services, residents may call Veterans Green Jobs directly at 719-587-9492 to request information and an application. They may also visit www.rechargecolorado.com for complete qualifying information. Renters and homeowners alike are eligible to receive weatherization services.
Qualified applicants will be provided a complete energy audit of their home. This audit will identify the areas that require weatherizing through a detailed inspection of walls, ceilings, floors, doors, windows and appliances. The audit will show which weatherization improvements offer the most value for each individual home. Veterans Green Jobs will then schedule weatherization upgrades. Once the work is complete, household members will immediately enjoy reduced energy consumption with improved comfort, health and safety.
Households that qualify for weatherization services include those where residents are already receiving financial assistance under other programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program and Supplemental Security Income. Eligibility can also be determined by household income, including households making up to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Priority service may also be given to persons who are considered elderly, disabled, or single parents, as well as to clients whose homes are considered to bear high energy costs or a high energy burden.
WHERE THE MONEY COMES FROM
Veterans Green Jobs received an award from the CEO, through the DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program, to provide weatherization services. Eighty percent of that allocation comes from funding under the DOE’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, whose dollars are designed to stimulate the economy by creating jobs. By fueling Veterans Green Jobs’ weatherization services program, these dollars lead to employment opportunities for hundreds of veterans and non-veterans in the green jobs economy, and boost energy efficiency in hundreds of Colorado homes.