Fort Collins is expanding its Epic Homes program with a higher ceiling for home efficiency loans and a renewed focus on rental properties.
Epic Homes, launched in 2019 with funding from the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge, is a one-stop shop for home efficiency upgrades that includes free or discounted assessments, rebates, a participating contractor network, financing options and real estate certification to document the improvements. People who take part in the program can also participate in a Colorado State University study on how energy efficiency upgrades affect indoor air quality.
The efficiency upgrades also have the advantage of lowering utility bills and making homes more comfortable.
“We’re really trying to make it sort of streamlined, affordable, straightforward for people to navigate what can be a pretty complicated process: Trying to understand what to do to your house to make it more comfortable, more efficient, healthier,” Fort Collins energy services manager John Phelan said.
“Each piece of the program is designed to sort of address barriers to people completing this kind of work,” Phelan added, such as lack of information, lack of time and lack of money.
The program recently secured additional financing and is offering loans of up to $50,000 with interest rates between 2.95% and 3.25%. Property owners just have to meet a minimum credit score threshold.
In an effort to reach more rental properties, the program is offering free home assessments for rental properties. Its leaders are especially focused on reaching more properties with low-to-moderate-income renters in 2021 and beyond. The city is pitching the program as a way for landlords to reduce tenant turnover and make their properties more comfortable for tenants. Property owners need to initiate the process.
For non-rentals, the home assessment costs $60. The nonbinding assessment includes an inspection of the home’s furnace, hot water heater, windows, duct work and attic; a blower door test to measure and identify air leaks; infrared camera pictures to show insulation defects; installation of free energy- and water-saving products, and a choice between a more detailed or more streamlined report of efficiency upgrade options. The program applies rebates to the cost of upgrades and connects homeowners with appropriate contractors to carry out the work.
Find more information about Epic at fcgov.com/utilities/epichomes.
Epic Homes is designed for single-family properties. Apartment-dwellers might consider a free home efficiency assessment from the Larimer County Conservation Corps, which is available for homeowners and renters who are customers of Fort Collins Utilities and Loveland Water and Power.
Those assessments include a basic inspection of your appliances, windows, toilets and heating/cooling system. Staff can install things like LED light bulbs, water-conserving showerheads and aerators, smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, clotheslines and high-efficiency toilets. Visit larimer.org/ewd/young-adults/lccc/home-efficiency-assessment for more information or to schedule an assessment.
If you’re an Xcel Energy customer, you might qualify for one of Xcel’s residential rebate or home services programs. Find more information about those at co.my.xcelenergy.com/s/residential/home-rebates or co.my.xcelenergy.com/s/residential/home-services.
Poudre Valley REA also has a range of rebate programs for customers. Find more information at pvrea.coop/rebates.
Jacy Marmaduke covers government accountability for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @jacymarmaduke. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.