Saint Paul Homeowners Save Energy With Home Performance Program
The proof is in the numbers:
After completing the Neighborhood Energy Connection’s Home Performance program, Tom and Elaine's Highland Park home used 30% less natural gas than it had before. And it no longer had a potentially expensive problem with attic ice and moisture.
Energy Assessment for a New Home
Tom and Elaine moved into their Tudor home in the Highland Park neighborhood in the spring of 2013. The house, built in 1935, had some issues with drafts and moisture--including ice in the attic. They were worried that larger problems with mold and rot would develop, so they decided to have an NEC energy auditor take a comprehensive look at their home’s performance.
The NEC auditor used diagnostic tools, including an infrared camera and blower door test, to analyze the air leakage and insulation of the home and provide Tom and Elaine with a list of projects to improve their home’s energy efficiency.
They realized that the Home Performance program was the most cost effective way to follow through with the energy auditor’s suggestions. To complete the program, Tom and Elaine completed a set of projects, including:
- Adding attic insulation to bring it to R60
- Sealing leakage that had been identified with the infrared camera with weather stripping and/or caulking
- Replacing the existing central air conditioner with a high efficiency unit
- Replacing a 100 gallon electric water heater with a 50 gallon gas water heater
- Replacing over 100 incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs
By completing these energy improvements Tom and Elaine were able to receive a $600 utility bill rebate from Xcel Energy. They also received step-by-step guidance from the NEC’s Energy Advisor Service, which connected him to approved contractors and performed a post-work quality assurance inspection.
A 30% Improvement
Tom and Elaine noticed an instant improvement in the comfort level of their home—and so did their family and friends: “Everyone who visits us in the winter says how comfortable it is.” Tom says. In addition, the attic ice and moisture condensation has not been evident the last two winters.
But they were also curious to know just how much their home’s performance had improved.
To find out, they took a look at the My Energy Report, an Xcel Energy tool that let’s homeowners compare their natural gas use with their comparable neighbors. The report divides customers into two overlapping categories: “All Neighbors” ( for Tom and Elaine's house, this was 100 roughly similarly sized homes within a 1.4 mile), and “High Efficiency Neighbors” (the top 20% most efficient of “All Neighbors”)
Here’s what they learned:
Before undergoing the Home Performance program, their natural gas usage was roughly equal to the average of the High Efficiency Neighbors category.
In the two winters since completing the program, they have used only 70% of the natural gas of the “High Efficiency Neighbors.” In January, 2015, for instance, they used 36% less natural gas than they would have used if they hadn’t done the Home Performance program. They calculate that their cost of natural gas has been reduced by over $400 over the last two years.
And the energy savings are even bigger when compared to the All Neighbors category. For instance, in the three coldest months of the last two winters, Tom and Elaine's house used only 46% of the natural gas that the “All Neighbors” category used.