Energy Saving Improvements Highlighted by Home Energy Score

Classic Craftsman Gets Home Energy Score

My name is Lourdes Gonzalez, and I live in a historic home in Laurelhurst. I live in a 1913 craftsman. Originally it had an oil furnace, which has now been converted to gas along with a lot of other energy upgrades that were done in 2013.

I just found out my Home Energy Score. I scored a 4, out of a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the least efficient. For a home this size and volume and age, that’s very good. Homes of this type score a 1 without any work done at all. So I’m very pleased with my score. I hope to continue improving the energy efficiency of my home so I can get my score up even more.

Too Cold and Too Hot

With older homes you have a lot of pre-existing conditions that come with them and it’s always a surprise because you don’t know quite what you’re going to find.

I’m from Miami and I’ve lived in lots of different cities but had never lived in the Northwest. I wasn’t familiar with the weather here when I bought the house. I didn’t know anything about having a furnace or how you heat a home of this size.

It was freezing cold in the winter, and an oven in the summer. I could not use my upstairs bedroom for the first two years that I lived here. I had to sleep in the basement. Here I was with this beautiful house, and I was  miserable in it. Something had to change.

Finally the oil furnace conked out. And then I had no heat for an entire winter except for my wood burning fireplace. I had to learn how to chop my own wood! But that wasn’t enough to keep the whole house warm.

You could literally see your breath in the house when you would speak in the kitchen. I had to walk around wearing a hoodie and sweaters and scarves. It was horrible. And I didn’t know what else to do.

Relief With a Home Energy Retrofit

I met an energy analyst on a flight–total coincidence–and I was telling him about my situation and he recommended an energy retrofit. I had never heard of an energy retrofit so I started looking into it and discovered that there was a program, Enhabit, that enabled homeowners to get energy upgrades done.

I wanted a total package solution. I didn’t want to just replace the furnace. I realized the only sensible way to really do it right would be to look at the whole house as a system, and prioritize what what would make the best improvement for the budget.

I had the energy assessor come out and do an assessment, a series of evaluations to determine where we were losing energy and where to recapture some of that energy and keep it in the house.They drew up a plan they gave me a scope of work with recommendations and costs.

It became obvious that we needed natural gas so we had a gas line brought in. We started with the furnace. I had a 97% efficiency Bryant furnace installed.

We did air sealing around the rim joists and any areas where air was escaping, or coming into the house.

We took care of all the electrical work. All the old knob-and-tube was replaced and then we had three different types of insulation added. We have regular eco fiberglass batting insulation. There is some blown in cellulose and some rigid insulation. That has made such a huge difference!

I have a combination of double paned vinyl windows and original wood frame windows. Luckily I discovered through Enhabit a company called Indow that makes window inserts. It made such a difference. I could keep many of the original windows but have them perform as well as the brand new double paned windows, and at a fraction of the cost.

The new mini split heat pumps offer the ability to just heat or cool one room independently instead of heating the whole house. They can be used as dehumidifiers, for air conditioning or heating and they each can be set to different temperatures.

Since I did the upgrades, these have been the best years that I’ve enjoyed my house. It’s the best thing that I could have ever done.

I was spending maybe two or three hundred dollars a month just on the oil. I would estimate my combined bills now are one hundred dollars or less or maybe just over one hundred dollars for both for gas and electric ever since.

It’s incredible! Fantastic! I run around in a T-shirt. Half the time I don’t even have to turn my furnace on. The insulation has done such a good job that the house stays really, really comfortable. Even during the hard winter that we had last year it was phenomenal.

It stays very comfortable in the summer I haven’t had to put in central AC yet. That is something I may do in future but for the moment it’s pretty good.

Working with Enhabit

Enhabit gave me my home back and it has helped me love my home again!

I have extensive experience renovating homes, but energy was not something that I had knowledge about. Enhabit does everything. It was one stop shopping instead of calling the HVAC guy, the window guy–that became really cumbersome. So it was really good to have a streamlined process.

I had a dedicated project manager who oversaw the whole project. Great communication, great crew, top of the line experts in their field.

Enhabit enabled me to apply for a loan through one of their financial partners, Craft3. I didn’t even have the money to replace the furnace alone, much less everything else that we ended up doing. Thanks to Craft3’s low rate, long term financing I was able to do above and beyond what I had originally thought that I’d be able to do.

Danny from Enhabit made sure that all the work had been completed according to the scope of work and it was all done perfectly!

Home Buying and Selling With the Home Energy Score

Now with the new Home Energy Score people are going to be able to rate their homes much like they would shop for a refrigerator or an oven with energy ratings, seeing which is going to be the most economical and efficient to run.

It’s going to make a huge difference for home buyers to be able to see energy scores especially when they’re comparing homes that are very similar in size and in architecture. Because utilities add up–it’s not just the mortgage and the taxes–and a lot of people don’t really even think about it. It’s an afterthought, but in some cases it can make or break the bank if you can’t afford to keep your house heated or cooled.  It might be the deciding factor.

I had my house on the market briefly when I was considering selling. I realized that the energy work I had put into my home was very difficult to convey to potential buyers and realtors. So hopefully with the new Home Energy Score, realtors will be incentivized to point out to potential buyers how some of the homes that they’re looking at have advantages versus homes that have not had energy upgrades.