CASE STUDY

BOWES/WEIGHT FAMILY, DILLON

High utility costs, freezing pipes and comfort concerns prompted Margaret and Richard to reach out to Energy Smart to learn more about how their all-electric home used energy. Built in the late 70’s, the home was constructed prior to today’s building codes that tend to consider a home’s potential energy efficiency.

Assessment Process & Findings

During the home energy assessment, a local analyst performed blower door testing and used an infrared camera to identify air leakage. Through the assessment process, the contractor observed significant air leakage throughout the two-story home. The home’s building design, with large windows and cantilevers on the north and east sides of the home, in combination with poor attic insulation was creating significant heat loss. The home’s clothes dryer and a bathroom fan were venting to the crawlspace and the roof cavity, respectively, causing potential for mold and contributing to the cold air entering the home. Several photos included in the audit report showed dramatic holes around wiring and piping that were sending heat directly to the outdoors.

With the 15-page assessment report in hand, the owners tackled each of the analyst’s recommendations over the next several years.

Measures completed by homeowners

  • Encapsulated vertical knee wall in attic
  • Insulated attic door hatch and added strong latch
  • Replaced soffit board (which was vented) under shed roof and added insulation
  • Added spray foam to gaps around plumbing and wiring pentrations
  • Vented a bath exhaust fan and clothes dryer to outside
  • Replaced dining room sliding glass door
  • Adding ceiling fan to upstairs bedroom

Measures completed by local contractors

  • Added R40 blown insulation on top of existing R23 insulation in attic
  • Insulated two cantilevered floors with closed cell R54 rigid polyurethane foam
  • Insulated crawlspace with closed cell R24 rigid polyurethane foam

PROJECT COSTS

Over five years, the homeowners invested roughly $3,200 in energy efficiency improvements. More than $1,000 in rebates awarded from High County Conservation Center, the State of Colorado and Xcel Energy covered 1/3 of their costs.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY SAVINGS

Following the upgrades, the analyst returned to perform another blower test for the homeowners. The “post” blower door test revealed a 33% reduction in air changes in the home. The resulting utility bills though spoke for themselves.

The energy efficiency improvements produced a household savings of 40% on energy and utility costs:

  • Baseline of home’s energy use:
    • 22,757 kWh annually
  • After energy efficiency improvements were completed:
    • 14,109 kWh annually

“One of our guests used to pack warm clothing to stay our house. Seriously, it felt that cold! Once we learned (from the energy assessment) where our home was losing heat, we were able to address many of the issues ourselves. After several relatively inexpensive energy efficiency improvements, the warmth and comfort of our home noticeably improved. The dramatically lower energy bills presented another bonus to us.” 

— Margaret Bowes, Dillon