Couple’s Home Energy Score a Blueprint for Future Upgrades

  • Home Energy Score: 3
  • Location: Mt. Tabor, Southeast Portland
  • Home built: 1915
  • Estimated electric use: 9,058 kWh/yr: $1,033
  • Estimated natural gas use: 958 therms/yr: $1,044
  • Total energy costs per year: $2,077

A Home Energy Score is helping energy-aware Portland homeowners Lynn Merrick and Michael Kronenthal make efficiency upgrade decisions.

Loving Restoration

The couple spent years transforming the 1915 craftsman home they moved into 20 years ago, children in tow. And they weren’t alone. The couple recalls other families up and down the street all working hard to breathe new life into old homes.

With Michael’s experience as a contractor, the couple replaced lost built-in bookshelves. Michael made new leaded glass windows to fit the old openings that had been covered up by later paneling. Shag carpet came off to reveal wood floors. Today the children are grown and the couple enjoys living space that glows with natural light and period charm.

Concern for Efficiency

Over the years the couple grew interested in efficiency and reducing their carbon footprint. They made upgrades one-at-a-time to fit their budget. They added insulation and a new heating system, and installed solar hot water system and photovoltaic panels.

More recently, Lynn struck up a conversation about climate change with some neighbors. One thing led to another, and they started reading and meeting together, and soon started inviting other neighbors. Lynn recalls, “We had a little group called 58th Avenue Resilience. Then I went to Al Gore’s Climate Reality training, and came back really deeply committed to doing climate work.”

“We all felt deeply inexperienced, but so committed to the issue, and we decided to persist. It turned out to be this tremendous unmet need among neighbors that they want to be well informed and know what the city and state are doing to help us reduce emissions. That’s when we started Lets Talk Climate,” she says.

Embracing Portland’s Home Energy Score

Lynn enthusiastically supports the City of Portland requirement that homes listed for sale must have home energy scores. “I thought ‘it’s about time,” she says. “Thank goodness they’ve taken the step to do that. Now that we understand, how much we can cut our carbon footprint by using even simple energy efficiency techniques, we’re delighted that our whole city is putting a system in place.”

If the couple had the information from the Home Energy Score earlier, they say they might have prioritized upgrades differently. “We only wish we had had this information 20 years ago when we bought our home. We wonder how much money we could have saved over the years had we done these simple energy upgrades years ago,” Lynn says. “We even wonder if the solar PV money could have been better spent first on insulation upgrades.”

“We appreciated how simple and professional the whole process was with Enhabit,” Lynn adds. “The resulting suggestions made it easy to prioritize and see what made the most sense to do first. We look forward to taking Enhabit’s suggestions and making a more energy efficient home in the near future.”

Cathedral Ceiling/Roof Roof insulated to R-0
Envelope/Air sealing Not professionally air sealed
Air Conditioner None
Attic insulation Ceiling insulated to R-11
Basement wall insulation Insulated to R-0
Duct insulation Un-insulated
Duct sealing Un-sealed
Floor insulation Insulated to R-19
Foundation wall insulation None
Heating equipment Natural gas boiler 92% AFUE
Skylights None
Solar PV Capacity of 4.125 kW in DC
Wall insulation Insulated to R-11
Water Heater Standard natural gas tank
Windows Multiple types