Coloradans struggling to pay utilities during the pandemic can receive free utility upgrades in their homes

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ARVADA, Colo. — Like many people in Colorado, Arvada resident Giovanno Ostuni fell on hard times recently and lost his job in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Energy Resource Center offered him a helping hand with his home and is ready to help others in about 20 Colorado counties.

“I got on disability,” Ostuni explained. “The money wasn’t good enough for me to keep taking care of my house.”

His furnace stopped working. It got so bad, he had to start wearing a coat indoors.

“I was going down hard, ” Ostuni said.

He’s not alone. According to a recent Washington Post article, Americans owed their gas and electric utilities an estimated $32 billion at the end of 2020 with much of it due to the ripple effects of a COVID-19 economy.

Ostuni is part of the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP). Little did he know, it would lead to a mini miracle thanks to the Energy Resource Center.

“I don’t know how to put it into words. They saved me. They literally saved me,” Ostuni said.

LEAP turned Ostuni onto the resource center, which provides free energy upgrade services to eligible homes. It’s not a new program, yet people still don’t know it exists.

“People have never heard of it,” said Chet Campbell with the Energy Resource Center. “They’re always amazed that we can come out and do all this work for them for free.”

It’s not just little fixes here and there. Ostuni got a new furnace, new insulation and even solar panels.

“I didn’t pay a dime. It was just remarkable,” Ostuni said. “It was like winning the lotto. I’ve won the lotto. That’s pretty much how I feel.”

This is Colorado taxpayer dollars at work. The ERC can weatherize homes, free of charge, thanks to a contract with the state of Colorado paid for by a grant. The center works on about 400 homes a year in the Denver area alone.

“We’re dying to help people,” said Campbell. “There are thousands of people in the Denver area that we can help. We want to help them.”

If you qualify for LEAP then you automatically qualify for the ERC program. The application process is simple. Click here to apply.