Five Energy-Efficiency Innovations Making Big Waves

If you were going to build an energy-efficient house from scratch these days, you could get your utility bill pretty close to nothing if you were willing and able to invest in some amazingly innovative technologies designed to conserve energy. 

But since most people aren’t building brand-new houses, the Energy Resource Center selected a handful of cutting-edge and innovative items you can use to retrofit your current Colorado home and save energy. 

Some of these are little things you can afford or they’re the kind of thing the ERC will upgrade for free for income-qualified residents in the five southern Colorado counties we serve. Others on this list are just really cool and if you can afford the upgrade, it will probably pay for itself.

  1. Light bulbs

    Yes, we always talk about upgrading light bulbs and it’s true that the compact fluorescent bulbs have been around for years. But they have gotten better. They don’t take as long to brighten up and they aren’t always that searing white light anymore.

    There are also light-emitting diodes on the market for residential lights now. They cost a little more, but you might not need to change them in your lifetime. Typical light bulbs last about 1,000 hours. CFLs typically last about 8,000 hours and LEDs can last more than 30,000 hours.

  2. Smart windows

    This is a retrofit that not everyone will be able to afford, but it is very interesting and would be extremely beneficial in sunny southern Colorado. There are a few brands out there attempting different variations of this.

    SageGlass is an industry leader in windows that let sun in when you want it to heat your home and block it out when you don’t. By electrifying the windows and changing their polarization, SageGlass can change window tinting on demand.

  3. Foam insulation

    This is another one that has been around a long time. It’s relatively affordable and not terribly complicated if you wanted to do it yourself. The payback is rapid and it’s one of the first things the ERC does for income-qualified families in southern Colorado. Foam insulation creates a tight seal, it’s flame retardant and offers high R-value insulation from the elements to keep your home cool in hot Colorado summers and warm in cold Colorado winters.

  4. Command center

    A smart home energy monitoring system is usually a pretty big investment because a lot of them require new energy-efficient appliances. GE has developed the GE Brillon app, which allows homeowners to monitor the energy usage of many of the most consumptive appliances in the house and determine when one is using too much power and remotely shut it off through a smartphone app. Being able to monitor and adjust your power usage can help you change your behavior and save.

  5. Solar

    While solar panels have been around for decades, they have only recently become affordable enough to be a realistic option for Colorado homeowners. They’re still pretty pricy and Colorado Springs Utilities doesn’t yet extend its rebate program to third-party-owned systems that could make solar affordable for more people. However, CSU and other southern Colorado utilities do provide net metering that will allow you to roll your electric meter backward when you produce more electricity than you need.

The Energy Resource Center can provide a home energy audit that will help you identify ways to save energy in your home and price various energy efficiency improvements and their estimated payback periods. We perform home energy audits and weatherization improvements free for income-qualified families in El Paso, Teller, Fremont, Douglas, Alamosa, Conejos, Mineral, Saguache and Rio Grande counties . We can also do audits for a fee for others. All fees support the nonprofit.


Our Loveland office has moved! If you are in the Weld, Boulder, Larimer country service area please contact our Sterling office at 970-463-7020 or email