Date:January 12, 2016

Simpson/Hebert Household: Decreased Air-Leakage by 40% and Electricity Use by 46%

Simpson-house-outside-no-people

Steamboat Springs Residents: Mayling Simpson and Paul Hebert

About: For years Steamboat Springs residents Mayling Simpson and Paul Hebert maintained their Steamboat Springs house in the old town neighborhood as home base during their busy careers of international health and humanitarian aid work. When they retired and returned to Steamboat full time in 2010, they knew they needed to upgrade their house to be warmer and more comfortable to hold up to the mountain winters. The old-school construction model of the 1938 house with a drafty, open basement and a leaky attic was not working. “We knew that we could do better in terms of making this house more energy efficient and comfortable,” Simpson said.

Home Assessment Findings: The first step was hiring BPI certified energy analyst Ivars Mikelsons of Greenleaf Building Performance in Oak Creek. The home assessment found many areas of air leakage and lack of insulation, with the attic and basement as the priorities. “This audit is the only way you can know what to fix, and we did learn a lot,” said Simpson, who has a Ph.D. in medical anthropology. “When you see the infrared, you can see where the heat is escaping from the house.”

Energy Efficiency Projects: Several phases of energy efficiency improvements were completed, including work by Scott Kemp of New Mountain Builders and other local contractors:

  • Can lights were capped and sealed or removed and replaced with surface-mounted fixtures
  • Closed-cell insulation and moisture barrier was installed in crawl space
  • Exterior wall electrical plugs and light switches were insulated
  • Hot water pipes were insulated
  • Attic staircase access was air-sealed and insulated
  • Spray foam insulation and 8 inches of blown-in cellulose insulation was added to the attic
  • Honeycomb shades and new double-paned windows installed in living room
  • New highly insulated “cold” roof added on top roof of a 1976 addition

Resource Savings: With the lighting upgrades, the couple’s electricity usage decreased by 46 percent, and their electricity bill costs decreased by 34 percent for a savings of $719 in the first two years.

As the heated living spaces became more air tight, roof-damaging ice dams disappeared that previously formed above poorly insulated sections. A follow-up blower door test showed a 40 percent decrease in air leakage after the upgrades.

Benefit: “Now our house stays a steady temperature more easily. We don’t have the really big dips in winter, and floors over the crawlspace are now warm,” Simpson said. “Before the energy audit we really had no idea how and where to make the improvements that we knew we needed to make. You only see the effects, but you don’t see the causes.”

NOTE: Work completed such as LED lights, air sealing and home energy assessment are eligible for rebates available to all Yampa Valley Electric Association customers/members. Learn more at http://www.energysmartcolorado.com/rebates/.