Nancy and Lynn Gramoll couldn't help but smile as they stood on the small deck of their Colorado Springs home on Thursday and talked about the solar array recently installed on the roof.
The sun shone brightly in the mid-morning sky as the couple boasted about the Colorado Energy Office's Weatherization Assistance Program designed to help retirees like the Gramolls, people with disabilities and low-income families save on utility bills. The Gramolls' Union Boulevard home is the first in the United States to receive a solar array as part of low-income weatherization services.
"It's great to go green," said Nancy, 62.
Her husband, Lynne, 63, said he heard about the Colorado Energy Office's program a couple months ago from a former coworker and immediately put the wheels in motion to take part. Through the program the Grammols had their home streamlined for energy efficiency at no cost to them.
"I always wanted to have solar," Lynn said. "I didn't think there was any way we could do it on our own. When they started talking about solar, then I really got excited."
The program is designed for families paying more than 4 percent of their income on energy costs. A household of two qualifies if their gross income is $2,670 per month or less. The Gramolls not only qualified to get the donated solar array, but staff members from the nonprofit Energy Resource Center visited their house to find other ways to save energy.
Howard Brooks, the executive director of the nonprofit that teamed up with CSU and CEO on the project, said crews added insulation to the Gramolls' home and caulked leaky windows. The Energy Resource Center will also help homeowners by completing other improvements, like replacing windows and old refrigerators.
Deborah Mathis, Colorado Springs Utilities' renewable energy program manager, said any savings from the solar array will be given back to the Gramolls by way of a credit on their next month's utility bill.
Homeowners and renters can go to www.erc-co.org to find out if they qualify for the weatherization program, Brooks said.
"People don't always know that this services is available," he said. "If your home is more than 10 years old, there is probably some efficiency stuff that we can do."