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The Hand Home: An Energy Investment

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The Hand home in Manchester
Photo credit: Building Energy

Source: Building Energy

Burning through the bank account

James Hand’s 1940s house was using more than 1,100 gallons of oil each year. He did the math and realized that if something didn’t change, with the rising price of fuel, his monthly heating bill would eventually surpass his monthly mortgage payment. So in 2009, Mr. Hand hired Hand Energy Services— which just happens to be owned by his son, a participating Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® contractor— to perform a whole-house energy audit and complete the resulting recommended projects, which were: 

• Adding foam insulation to box sills and the full length of basement walls;

• Application of 20 inches of cellulose insulation through the entire attic; and

• Blower-door directed air sealing throughout the home.

The total cost of these improvements was $8,277*, for a 38% reduction in air leakage. Of particular note with the Hand home is the variety of insulation types used. By employing a professional with an understanding of building science and insulation technology, Hand ensured that the right materials would be used for the right applications, making the project more cost-effective and—ultimately—more successful. Hand was so pleased with the results, he has since added insulation to nearly all of his exterior walls and now uses less than 350 gallons of fuel per year (a 68% reduction). Says Hand, “The house feels the same, but for a fraction of the cost. Just look at the numbers. It works.”

*This is the standard price for these improvements,and does not reflect any father-son discount.

Paying for Energy Efficiency Home Improvements:  

The least expensive way to pay for energy improvements is with cash. Given the typical size of these projects, however, few homeowners have this option available. For Vermonters who are interested in making significant energy efficiency home improvements, appropriate financing can make the investment not only possible, but affordable. Energy savings can offset fixed monthly loan payments, and the money that would have been spent on energy bills becomes available to make most or all of the loan payments. Although the total cost of a longer loan is higher, increasing the number of payments can reduce the monthly cost and more closely match energy savings.