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Landlord Boosts Efficiency for Tenants

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Photo credit: Archer Newell

Source: Archer Newell, Middlebury College

Ryan Nevius became enchanted with Middlebury after visiting her nephew, who was a student at the College. She and her husband bought a house on Route 7 this past March to remain connected with the area. She has made impressive improvements to the home’s efficiency since then. Ryan plans to rent out the house once it is finished.

1. Calculate How Much You are Spending on Heat

Before Ryan and her husband bought the house, it belonged to the same family for 50 years. It took 275 gallons of oil each month to heat just the downstairs of the home, leaving upstairs closed off and freezing. This was expensive and impractical. Ryan knew she needed to take care of it.

2. Focus on Insulation

She used insulating foam to fill in the space between the rafters in the attic. She had insulation blown into the walls in order to seal the building envelope. This helps keep heat in and noise out - an important bonus since the house is located on the busy Route 7.

3. Switch From Fuel Oil to Heat Pump

Ryan also replaced the previous heating system with a split system heat pump that can heat the whole house without using any oil until the temperature gets below 5 degrees. She also replaced some windows and the front door to more efficient models.

She sealed the foundation of the house by adding foam insulation around the basement walls and sealing up an old garage door.  She also added a heat pump hot water heater in the basement that can efficiently heat enough water for a whole family.

4. Enjoy the Benefits!

One might ask, “why go through all this trouble for a house you won’t even live in or pay utilities for?” To Ryan, the answer is simple: for the environment and because it makes economic sense. Ryan will receive a $2,000 credit from Efficiency Vermont to cover some of the costs and also points to tax write-offs for energy upgrades. She says that to get top dollar rents and good tenants, a house needs to set itself apart. This clean energy home will certainly be very marketable, especially in Middlebury where rents are already high and unknown heating costs can add additional burden.

Ryan also said that making these sorts of upgrades is “the right thing to do.” Even with efficiency measures like these, it will be difficult to keep global warming below 2 degrees C (a critical point at which many biological systems will become seriously degraded). Everyone must do their part in preserving our planet for ourselves and future generations.

For more information, contact Ryan at