GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Some western Colorado churches are looking to the heavens to spend less on utilities, while others see hope in the flames of high-efficiency furnaces.
Garfield County congregations are installing solar panels, new heating systems and LED lights to reduce energy use, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported Saturday.
First United Methodist Church of Glenwood Springs installed solar panels with help from rebates and a grant. A consultant said the panels and new insulation could save the church $ 2,000 a year.
First Assembly of God in Rifle used rebates to help replace older T12 fluorescent bulbs with more efficient T8 fluorescent bulbs. Annual savings are expected to be about $ 450.
Grand Valley United Methodist Church in Parachute replaced two old gas-fired furnaces and an evaporative cooler with two efficient furnaces and a heat pump. No savings estimate was available.
“Churches that save money on energy costs will have more funds to focus on their primary mission,” said Shelley Kaup, an energy coach for Garfield Clean Energy, which helped the churches cut their energy consumption. “They are also practicing good stewardship for the Earth and helping to preserve its resources for future generations.”
First United Methodist got a $ 12,500 rebate from Glenwood Springs Electric and a $ 28,000 grant from the Community Office for Resource Efficiency for its project.
The church, built in 1940, had no insulation or attic, but members wanted to preserve the planks and exposed timbers. Kaup and a consulting engineer suggested replacing the exterior roof with structural insulated panels, which provided enough support for solar panels.
At First Assembly of God, church members thought about their energy consumption before the more efficient lights were installed.
“It does just seem prudent for us to pay attention to energy consumption and our energy footprint in the community,” Pastor BJ Worthen said.
Grand Valley United Methodist Church’s new system avoided the need for an air conditioner. The old evaporative cooler was so noisy it couldn’t be used during services, said Dan Temple, chairman of the church’s board of trustees.
The church’s next project will be replacing older fluorescent lighting fixtures with LEDs.