Living at high elevation means we tolerate – and maybe even prefer – cold temperatures, but this climate often requires households to run their heaters and furnaces 7-8 months out of the year. Energy costs can be financially burdensome for low and middle-income community members, and simple upgrades and retrofits can drastically reduce both financial and environmental burdens.
The Gunnison Valley Home Energy Advancement Team (GV-HEAT) is a program of the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority. GV-HEAT facilitates home energy assessments for income-qualified renters and homeowners to upgrade home insulation, conduct air sealing, and support other energy efficiency upgrades. The initiatives of GV-HEAT align with the VHF’s mission to bring energy efficiency and affordability to households that are experiencing an energy burden, which means a disproportionate amount of monthly costs go to heat. By creating lasting improvements through GV-HEAT, the participating homes in our valley are becoming more resilient for the future. Lower heating costs, improved heat retention, and reduced demand on local energy systems all support individual households and our collective GHG emissions reduction goals.
In 2019, engineer and local energy efficiency advocate Emily Artale lobbied the GVRHA and the VHF to resurrect programming from the Office of Resource Efficiency (ORE), to help reduce carbon emissions from residential housing through insulation and sealing improvements. The VHF granted $10,000 to create programming overseeing building improvements in existing housing.
In August of 2021, the Valley Housing Fund awarded GV-HEAT $20,000 in grant funds for additional program support. GV-HEAT holds dynamic partnerships with Colorado’s Affordable Residential Energy (CARE) and Weatherization Assistance (WAP) programs and Energy Smart Colorado. Those partnerships serve a wide variety of incomes and fund many types of infrastructure supports. The VHF focuses on projects that not only support securing new housing opportunities but also preserving and upgrading the current stock of affordable homes in the valley.