Residential Success Stories
Age of home: 1890
Purchased: July 2012
When the Startz family bought their historic Baker home in July 2012, they knew there might be issues with energy efficiency due to noticeable drafts and older systems, however it wasn’t in their budget to tackle as new homeowners, nor did they know what measures made sense.
In September of 2012 they were curious what measures would improve their home’s efficiency so they decided to get an energy audit. The audit was full of good information and the cost for the audit was offset by Xcel Energy rebates, so it only cost them $135 to identify how their home was wasting energy and what improvements made sense for them.
Knowing they had options was a great start but the holidays were rapidly approaching and they figured they would just wear sweaters inside and deal with improvements when something broke. Little did they know, while having friends over for Christmas dinner, their 30 year old furnace would break forcing their guests to sit on heating pads to stay warm! After three weeks without a furnace, their electricity bills skyrocketed to $350 in one month due to individual electric wall heaters. “We didn’t know we were uncomfortable until our house became comfortable!” said the Startz family.
Using their energy audit report, they had a qualified energy efficiency contractor do some of the recommended low-cost measures which included air sealing (in the unfinished basement and on the interior exposed brick) and duct sealing. These improvements were virtually impossible to see so their home could still maintain its beautiful historic character while feeling more comfortable inside. They also chose to replace their washer (and dryer) with an efficient model that now uses 1.5 gallons per load versus their old washer at 20 gallons per load.
While getting two estimates for a replacement furnace they found out about the Denver Energy Challenge, which provides free energy advising and low-cost energy loans for residents who live in the City and County of Denver. Additionally, their evaporative cooler was failing so they were pleased to find out that loans offered through the Denver Energy Challenge had a 5 minute online application process, very low interest rates (starting at 2.75% versus 14-25% with other lending institutions), and no early payment penalties. They thought they would have to wait until they had the capital to do any of the projects on their to-do list but that was no longer true!
When they applied for their loan, they were assigned an energy advisor through the Denver Energy Challenge. The program also provided them with a historic preservation reviewer to ensure they were doing projects that did not affect their delicate and historic home. It was recommended that they replace some of their non-historic windows, because they would not close, and their advisor and historic preservation reviewer helped them determine the best method for doing this. In this instance it was easier to approve replacements however original windows in a historic home do not always need to be replaced, they can be restored. “Our advisor was awesome and we didn’t have to worry about historic preservation issues because the advisor took care of it, which was a huge plus for us,” said the Startz family.
The Denver Energy Challenge, a program administered by the City and County of Denver’s Department of Environmental Health, created their low-cost energy loan product (offered through Elevations Credit Union) in August of 2012 in order to provide residents with a sustainable way to make energy upgrades without the upfront cost barriers. The loans are also available for Denver businesses! With over 6,250 homes utilizing the program’s free advising, the loans are continuing to increase as homeowners realize there is finally a way to make their home efficient without taking on debt at high interest rates. Energy advisors also assist with rebates offered through Xcel Energy to help offset costs for the homeowner. “The rebates from Xcel Energy made a big difference for us, too. We were able to pay down our loan faster by receiving the rebate checks and signing the extra money over to our loan,” said the Startz family.
For more information on the program and energy loans contact an energy advisor directly at 720.865.5520 or visit www.DenverEnergy.org.
This Denver homeowner was able to reduce energy usage in his home by an estimated 32%. In order to make the best decisions for his home, Mr. Charapta met with an energy advisor to see what his options were. He chose to add insulation and air sealing (received program rebate along with Xcel) and finally installed a solar PV system. After receiving a few energy bills it appears the Charapata family is over-producing and is able to receive a credit back from Xcel. Congrats!
Energy advisors can come to your home (at no cost) to do a surface level assessment.
One of our energy advisors discusses lighting options for Mr. Charapata to reduce costs and energy use.
New homeowner, Debra Brown, got an energy makeover without it affecting her pocketbook after participating in the Denver Energy Challenge program.
It's Energy Action Month and what better way to make a difference than to have one of our very own City Councilmembers endorse the work we do! Councilwoman Susan Shepherd is taking the Denver Energy Challenge and we couldn't be more pleased. As part of the program, she recently met with her free energy advisor to discuss ways that she and her family can cut energy waste while improving indoor air quality and comfort at home. Her advisor will now put together an action plan and help prioritize the best ways to save. Stay tuned for updates!