Energy Resource Center provides clients with free weatherization services
By Faith Miller
The Southeast Express
When Venus Cenedella called Energy Resource Center to help her insulate her house, “it was like Christmas on steroids in the weatherization department,” she said in a client testimonial video posted on YouTube.
Last summer, the team at ERC replaced the insulation in Cenedella’s attic and crawl space, installed an exhaust fan in her bathroom, replaced her hot water heater and installed weather stripping in her front and back doors.
“Some of that work is just inherently messy,” she wrote in an email. “However, the workers were all extraordinarily respectful and consistently went out of their way to minimize any disruption, hanging plastic everywhere when they shot insulation into my walls, etc., and took care of me like I was their family.”
Energy Resource Center, a nonprofit based in downtown Colorado Springs, annually helps around 2,000 clients like Cenedella from four offices across the Front Range and Eastern Plains. The team checks for health and safety issues, and allows residents to cut down on heating costs by making homes more efficient.
Services are completely free for those who meet income guidelines.
A two-person household earning less than $2,818 per month, or $33,820 per year, can receive a free audit to determine what their home needs, as well as free services ranging from new carbon monoxide detectors to furnace replacements. Families that receive public benefits through certain avenues, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, automatically qualify. (Visit erc-co.org for detailed income guidelines.)
Don’t meet the income limits? You can “pay it forward” by hiring Energy Resource Center for weatherization services as you would a private company. That money goes directly toward helping people in need receive the same services for free.
“Our intake manager has been here 27 years, so she knows exactly what to do, how to help people, where to direct them,” said Mike Mazzola, ERC’s development director. “It doesn’t have to be [that] their furnace is broken for us to come out. Their house can be operating, but they’re struggling paying their utility bills.”
By helping people to better insulate their homes and replace old appliances, Mazzola says ERC saves clients an average of 25 percent on their utility bills. (Renters can receive help in addition to homeowners, as long as the landlord consents.)
“Say that’s $50 a month, or $75 a month — that’s the difference between people often, you know, paying for medication or being able to heat their home,” Mazzola says. “It’s that dire of a situation for some people.”
Others who receive help may just need a little extra assistance to safely get through the winter. Mazzola says some people who’ve lived in the same house for a long time may not think about replacing a decades-old water heater or checking for gas leaks, but the free audit can help them identify problems that could become safety hazards.
ERC additionally serves households in the Denver metro area, San Luis Valley and northern Colorado.