Beth and Neil Groundwater have impressive resumes: both retired software engineers, one a mystery book author, avid skiers, bikers, trail builders, community volunteers, election judges, world travelers, retired-lifestyle models for the Breckenridge Tourism Office – these two hardly know how to slow down in their retirement.

Beth’s volunteer involvements included advocating for renewable electricity in Town of Breckenridge and Summit County. It was this work that led Beth to make a few more environmentally-minded changes. While chairing the 100% renewable electricity task force in Breckenridge, Beth didn’t want to be seen driving a gas-guzzling car anymore. So, when it came time to replace her 15-year-old car, she chose to go electric. You can now spot her zipping around Summit County in her sporty Chevy Bolt.

Around the same time Beth bought her Bolt, Neil became the proud owner of a silver Tesla Model X – an SUV with crazy X-wing doors a la Doc Brown’s Delorean in Back to the Future.

Charging at home meant Beth and Neil would be using more electricity, so they decided to sign up for a home energy assessment with High Country Conservation Center to learn how to make their house more efficient and offset some of that extra usage.

Assessment Outcomes

Upon learning where they could save energy and money, they hired a contractor to install extra insulation in their attic and seal up some of the places where heated air leaked out of their home. In addition, they replaced most of their household lighting with LED light bulbs. As result of the lighting replacements, they are spending less than 20 percent of their previous costs on lighting their home.

Beth and Neil love their mountain home. And they also love the increased comfort these projects have brought them. Even though the subsequent winter was colder than the previous few years, their energy usage held steady while their home stayed toasty. Neil also notes they have less ice on the roof than before – thanks to the extra insulation in the attic. In fact, Neil was so happy with the results he wrote a letter to their HOA to spread the word among their neighbors.

Project Costs

The Groundwaters spent just over $2,500 replacing their lighting as well as installing insulation and air sealing. With rebates from Xcel Energy and High Country Conservation Center through their partnership with the Town of Breckenridge, over $900 was reimbursed to the homeowners. This resulted in a net cost of $1,600. Their annual utility savings will provide a payback within three years.


  • light bulbs replaced with LEDs
  • insulation added in attic
  • air sealing throughout home


As air leaks can account for up to 40 percent of a home’s winter season energy bills, the air sealing combined with added insulation and LED installs resulted in an annual savings of $490 on their utility bills.

In addition, the improvements have reduced the home’s consumption by an estimated 398 therms and 312 kWh each year.

“There are tangible and intangible benefits to doing these projects.

We know we’re doing the best we can until the next big project comes up.

— Beth Groundwater, Breckenridge