Professor Schooled in Energy Efficiency

A Drafty, Cold Home

Hunte_headshot.jpgAs a Black Studies professor at Portland State University and producer of the film Sista in the Brotherhood based on her experience as a construction worker, Roberta Hunte is a woman of many trades. Despite being well-versed in many fields, she did not know that her home was unreasonably cold.

“I didn’t know my house could be warm,” Roberta says. “I was putting plastic on the windows and it was very drafty. We would put blankets up in between rooms to try and keep the heat in.”

Taking the Plunge

Roberta has lived in her Northeast Portland home for ten years, but, it wasn’t until 2010 that she decided to make her home energy efficient. She worked for Oregon Tradeswomen in the same building as the old Enhabit office. “They kept coming into the office saying why don’t you have us do your house?” she says.

She finally took the plunge and signed up for the program. “I was initially kind of freaked out,” Roberta says, “At that point in my homeownership journey, I hadn’t shelled out that much money. It was a little stressful for me.”

She started with Enhabit’s 100 Point Performance Check to see what her home needed. “I learned that it was really leaky. I really needed to take the time to weatherize it and it would have long term benefits on the house. It would make it a lot more livable in the summer and warm in the winter,” Roberta says.

Getting H.E.L.P

In spite of her initial hesitancy, her project went very smoothly with Home Energy Life Performance (H.E.L.P.) as her contractor. “I love Bernice. Bernice is the best. I’ll wear her t-shirt any day,” Roberta says, referring to H.E.L.P owner Berenice Lopez-Dorsey.

H.E.L.P. installed a vapor barrier in the basement – to help improve the air quality in her living space. She also added insulation in the attic, walls and floor. “It’s just a better place to live now,” Roberta says, “Economically, it was an improvement in our overall wellbeing. I have no idea if it added monetary value but in terms of being in the home, the value is a lot higher.”

Checking the Work

At the end of her project, an Enhabit Home Performance Advisor quality checked the work, which is something Roberta really appreciated. “I think that’s one of the big bonuses of doing it through Enhabit. There’s usually not anyone doing a very thorough check and it’s hard to hold a contractor accountable once they consider themselves done with the work. Having Enhabit inspect it and also walk me through it was really helpful,” she says.

Healthy, Happy Home

Roberta says, weatherizing her home was a great investment. She only wishes she had known about it sooner and that more homeowners were aware as well. “I think in Portland, a lot of people’s homes are cold, drafty and damp and you don’t necessarily think about it. It blew my mind to think about my home from a livability standpoint as opposed to the aesthetic of it,” Roberta says.

Overall, she says, “My experience with Enhabit has been really positive – great communication, walked me through every step and it was easy. I think of Enhabit as helping you live in your home better.”

Home Performance Upgrades:

  • Vapor barrier
  • Attic insulation
  • Wall insulation
  • Floor insulation

Benefits:

  • No more plastic on the windows
  • No more closing off rooms with blankets
  • Lower utility bills
  • Better air quality