Last year, Kenergy Corp. member Jeanne Hayden undertook a whole-home, energy-savings overhaul of her 100-year-old Hartford farmhouse—proving it’s never too late to retrofit.
Hayden worked with contractors to install new insulation and to seal the envelope of her home against air leaks, which in her case weren’t all that hidden. “I could see the blinds moving due to wind coming in around gaps in the windows,” Hayden says.
To combat the draftiness, workers considerably increased the aging home’s insulation, adding thick batting insulation across the attic floor and her basement ceiling, and installing blown-in, cellulose insulation in the second-story gabled ceiling. They also sealed Hayden’s ductwork, weatherproofed around all her windows and doors, and caulked and sealed between all the furnace registers and her floors.
“It is hard to even begin to describe how much more comfortable my home has been,” Hayden says.
In addition to the sealing and insulation improvements, Hayden also installed a new high-efficiency heat pump water heater, added a programmable thermostat, and replaced her aging refrigerator with a new, energy-efficient model.
“The new refrigerator doesn’t kick on and off all the time, and it doesn’t generate the heat that the other one did,” Hayden says.
Between July and October 2016, Hayden says her electric usage dropped by 874 kilowatt-hours over the same period in 2015, for a savings of roughly $90.
The entire process, which took about three months, was well worth it, Hayden says: “It’s definitely benefited my entire life. I feel much more comfortable and safe here now. And the stress of trying to deal with all those different challenges with the house is gone.”
Proper insulation is key
Many older homes are underinsulated. Work with your local electric co-op energy advisor to find out where you may need to add additional blown-in or batting insulation to prevent air leaks. Be sure to insulate around all gaps within the home’s envelope, including the attic hatch, around dropped soffits and knee walls, and between the original home structure and any newer additions. Not sure how to get started sealing and insulating your home? Download A Do-it-yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating at www.energystar.gov; search for DIY Guide.
Update your water heater
Heat pump water heaters can be up to 70 percent more efficient than conventional electric water heaters. When you consider that heating water accounts for approximately 15 percent of a home’s energy use, the savings add up quickly. In fact, a family of four could expect to save roughly $400 a year when they replace their standard electric water heater with a heat pump water heater.
Look for energy-efficient appliances
When replacing old, outdated appliances, look for energy-efficient models such as ENERGY STAR. In general, ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances use up to 50 percent less energy than standard appliances. Find out more at www.energystar.gov.