CASE STUDY

MEAD FAMILY, GUNNISON

Taryn Mead and her family closed on their first house in March 2018. Taryn, her husband, and their two young children, the youngest not yet one year old, were relieved to finally escape the instability of the rental market. Taryn recalled when she was pregnant with their second child, a miscommunication with the landlord about utility bills led to their gas supply getting cut off in the midst of winter. Taryn’s partner was out of town and she was left to fix the problem alone, with a toddler and a very pregnant belly.

“Those are the types of instabilities that come with renting. While seemingly manageable, a weekend attempting to rig together space heaters can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

— Taryn Mead, Gunnison

Built in 1974 with 2×4 framing and brick exterior, Taryn’s single story, 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home is perfect for the family. They knew prior to closing that a few small things would need to be addressed – a situation common to new owners and old homes. There was dated carpeting and flooring, no insulation in the attic, old and inefficient windows, air sealing work needed, and other small fixes like upgrading lighting.

Taryn learned about the GV-HEAT program from her friend Andy Tocke, who works as an analyst for the program. Once in touch with a GV-HEAT representative at Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority, Taryn says, “the work was essentially done for me.” The enrollment form for Energy Smart Colorado (ESC) was completed by her GV-HEAT representative. Soon after, an assessor was in her house identifying the energy efficiency measures that could be addressed through ESC. The assessment cost of $300 was cut down to $150 with utility rebates. If Taryn’s family had met the income qualification (i.e., 80 percent of Area Median Income), they would have been eligible for a completely free assessment.

Assessment Process & Findings

During the home assessment, Taryn was provided a Combustion Safety Analysis, blower door testing and infrared imaging to identify air leaks, “quick-fix” energy conservation installs including programmable thermostats, efficient lighting and pipe insulation. With the ESC assessment, Taryn was able to definitively identify the efficiency and weatherization measures most needed for her home.

Following her assessment, Taryn was recommended a contractor to scope and bid the work suggested by the assessment recommendations. Taryn’s GV-HEAT representative then talked through the rebate and finance processes for these recommended improvements. While Taryn didn’t need to access the financing options available through ESC, they were identified to her as options. Taryn did utilize her GV-HEAT representative to apply for and secure the utility rebates associated with the recommended retrofits.

Homeowner Recommendations

Lastly, when asked what she might do differently with retrospect on her side, Taryn said, “before making any home improvement efforts, I would have contacted GV-HEAT.” Shortly after moving in, Taryn and her family decided to replace those old windows, prior to consulting GV-HEAT. They picked out new windows and paid a contractor to install them. As a result of the assessment, Taryn laments, she realized that not all new windows have a satisfactory insulation value for the winter in this valley. But, alas, they were installed and would not be worth replacing for years to come. Taryn says, if she had a better grasp on the rebates and financing through GV-HEAT and ESC, she would have chosen windows that (1) better insulated her home and (2) allowed her the possibility of rebates and/or financing applicable to her window replacement project.

MEASURES TAKEN

  • LED light bulbs installed
  • Rim joist sealed/insulated
  • Programmable thermostat installed
  • Radon barrier replaced
  • Weatherstripping installed

PROGRAM BENEFITS

When asked about how the Energy Smart program helped her most, Taryn replied, “in navigating the online world of utility rebates.”

As there can be many documents floating around the internet that provide often outdated, contradictory, or misleading information, Taryn noted that trying to figure out what rebates a household qualifies for and how to apply can be extremely difficult, time consuming, and frustrating.

Through Energy Smart Colorado, GV-HEAT helps those in the Gunnison Valley avoid these difficulties and find the rebates and other offerings specific to one’s circumstance.