Sixteen days into my marketing gig at CORE, I was signing up for a home energy assessment. I figured first-hand experience was a must if I was going to be touting the assessment — a foundation of CORE’s energy-efficiency gospel. Plus, I wanted to know exactly how easy, or not, it would actually be to lower our carbon footprint. And how quick we could get some of those dreamy solar panels installed on our roof.

In search of the real user experience, I followed the process just like any Roaring Fork Valley resident would. I signed up online and in a few days got a call to schedule my appointment with a certified Energy Analyst.

Charles Cady showed up at our door hoisting a colorful bundle of gadgets that I would soon learn were blower-door testing equipment, an infrared camera, and air quality monitors. What he discovered and detailed, in a 14-page custom report, provided invaluable knowledge to start lowering our carbon footprint, and not all of it was what we expected.

Here’s what we learned after we got a home energy assessment.

1. Our Biggest Priority Was Invisible to Us.

We found out that our house earned an air exchange rating that put us on the “very leaky home” end of the spectrum. This data helped us single out our most effective next steps: air sealing and insulation, things that we wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise. Not as sexy as solar, but surprisingly rewarding. Why? We got immediate feedback on the effectiveness when we couldn’t start a fire in our wood stove — a sign that our house was now so tight that we didn’t have ANY drafts. Wow.

2. Cozy + Savings = Awesome.

Cold spots were banished and our house was notably cozier. Suddenly everyone was hanging out in the living room. This was backed up by a 20% reduction on our gas bill.

3. You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. And That Can Be Dangerous.

We got the “all clear” on carbon monoxide and gas leaks, but found out that we were on the bubble for radon levels. The results keyed us to go back in with more sophisticated testing. The peace of mind on our family’s health and safety can’t be understated.

4. CORE Rebates Made It Easier to Do the Right Thing.

Home energy improvements can be spendy. The home energy assessment qualified us for CORE’s cash-back rebates to the tune of $1,000. These helped us to make sustainable choices that we might not have been able to otherwise, aligning our home with our values.

5. Solar Is Sexy, but That Doesn’t Mean It Comes First.

In fact, it probably shouldn’t. With our home energy assessment, we received advising on the basics of creating a clean energy future at home:

  • First, get lean. Do everything you can to make your home hum as efficiently as possible.
  • Then, find your baselines. Your energy-efficiency efforts will determine the minimum energy you need to power your home.
  • Next, go renewable. With this data, you can start replacing your coal-powered energy with renewables like solar.

Written by Lara Whitley, Brand + Creative Strategy Director, Community Office for Resource Efficiency
Photo credit: Michele Cardamone Photography


  • Air sealing & insulation
  • Radon testing


In the end, the home energy assessment has become a journey, rather than mere marketing research, or something to check off my list in my rush to bright and shiny PV panels. I received far more than I bargained for: knowledge, comfort, peace of mind, a healthier home, cash in our pocket, and a roadmap to a low-carbon future. Those are their own rewards, but I also sleep well knowing our home is optimized for efficiency.

Now I can spend more time at work dreaming up creative strategies to get the word out.