The projects were chosen through the cooperative’s energy audit program as candidates for energy saving measurers. The first home, owned by Carole and Jim Elston, is located in Donnellson; and Russ and Becky Morey own the second home west of Mount Pleasant.
In each of the homes, foam insulation was installed in the basement, the attic and in other large openings that needed to be filled. Heating and cooling systems were updated with energy efficient solutions. Plus old energy-hog appliances were replaced with new energy efficient models.
Initial energy audits, done in the homes by Access Energy Cooperative Energy Advisors Alan Raymer and Gary Stevens, disclosed a variety of areas where energy could be saved. Blower door tests were conducted as a routine part of the energy audits and revealed an air change rate of 16.2 at the Elston home and a rate of 11 at the Morey home. Both tests showed significant air leakage in the homes.
Blower door tests remove air from the home using a large fan placed inside a door facing as shown above. By removing air, negative pressure is placed on the house. When air from the outside begins to filter in to replace the air that is removed, energy auditors can
determine where the house is leaking.
They can also use infrared cameras to spot areas of air infiltration.
After all the improvements were made, new blower door tests were conducted. The Elston home showed an improvement to 12.3 air changes per hour and the Morey home showed a rate of 8.2, revealing significant improvements in air leakage in both homes. And the home owners report a far more comfortable environment to live in.
For the Elstons, their first electric bill they received after all the improvements had been operational said it all. For the past three years, they had run about 4000 kWs consistently for the month of March. Their 2009 bill was for 1880 kWhs!! We are excited to see what they save during an entire heating season this coming winter, and Carole is happy about not having to wear so many layers of clothing to find comfort in her home in the winter.
The result was different for the Morey residence but had equal significance. Their previous HVAC system included propane for heat and a very old, inefficient air conditioning unit. They did not have sufficient duct work to push heating and cooling to their bedrooms upstairs, so they were faced with the options of either compensating with space heating and window air conditioning units, or none at all. By installing a heat pump to convert their system to a dual fuel system, they are able to enjoy a decrease in their use of propane, a much more efficient air conditioning unit, and a system that allows heating and cooling to be pushed to the upstairs rooms. As a family who takes advantage of homeschooling, their boys now have a much richer environment for productive homework in their rooms upstairs. They find their living area much more comfortable to live in.
Access Energy Cooperative was excited to be a part of this program and help two families find ways to save on their energy bills and make their lives much more comfortable. We will track their bills for a couple of years to determine how much benefit was incurred from the improvements. AECI will also use this information for evaluating future rebate programs for energy efficiency improvements.