When Mayling Simpson and Paul Hebert retired in Steamboat Springs in 2010, they needed to upgrade their house to hold up to the mountain winters. With a drafty, open basement and a leaky attic, the old-school construction of their 1938 house was not working.

“We knew that we could do better in terms of making this house more energy efficient and comfortable,” Simpson said.

Assessment Process & Findings

A certified Energy Analyst completed a Home Energy Assessment for the couple and found numerous areas where the house lacked insulation, with the attic and basement prioritized.

“This assessment 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 images, you can see where the heat is escaping from the house.”

Efficiency Upgrades

Several phases of energy efficiency improvements were completed including

  • Can lights were capped and sealed or removed, and replaced with surface-mounted fixtures
  • Insulation and moisture barrier was installed in the crawlspace
  • Exterior wall electrical plugs, light switches and 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 were installed in the living room
  • New highly insulated “cold” roof added on top roof of a 1976 addition


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.

The insulation and air-sealing upgrades decreased air leakage by 40 percent.

“Now our house stays a steady temperature. We don’t have the really big dips in winter and the floors over the crawlspace stay warm.”

– Mayling Simpson, Steamboat Springs