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The Hanson Home: An Energy Investment

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The new Hanson home
Photo credit: Building Energy

Source: Building Energy

A Cold Cape House

The Hansons bought their Starksboro Cape in 1992, and soon realized—from the cold drafts and high energy bills in winter—that it needed some work. So they invested in new energy-efficient windows throughout the home. Unfortunately, the drafts persisted. The Hansons were stumped—they could be seated on their couch ten feet from the roaring woodstove, and still feel cold. That’s when they hired Tom Perry, a participating Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® contractor, to conduct an energy audit.

The Results are In

Perry quickly found the source of the heat loss—although insulated, the upstairs ceiling had major air leakage and the Hansons’ heat had been traveling right out the roof this whole time (which helped to explain the ice dams and massive icicles each winter). Says Mr. Hanson “We didn’t have icicles so much as ice columns. They reached all the way down from the dormer roof to the kitchen roof below.” The Hansons had heard that adding insulation to your attic can help, but the space between the upstairs ceiling and their roof was inaccessible, so they had left it alone. And indeed, the weatherization work recommended by Tom Perry meant removing the upstairs ceiling in order to add a thermal barrier. The Hansons agree: “It was worth it.”

The Details:

The total project cost for this home was $11,635 and the selected improvements were:

• Blower-door directed air sealing throughout the home;

• Insulating the basement with spray foam; and

• Creating access to the attic and dormer in order to airseal and re-insulate.

Diagnostic tests show that these improvements have reduced air leakage by 59%. The Hansons’ heating bills have decreased dramatically and their home is far more comfortable. The drafts are gone; the icicles a distant memory. “It’s a different house,” says Mr. Hanson. “It’s the same house—but it’s totally different in terms of our comfort.” 

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.

Hanson Project Summary

Total Project Cost ($11,635)

Efficiency Vermont Incentive $2,500

Total Customer Cost ($9,135)

Energy Savings $1,307/yr.*

For more information, please contact Efficiency Vermont at (888-921-5990)