Gathering around the table this past Thanksgiving, Anna Napoleon’s family gave thanks for good food, good company and the cozy home in which they were celebrating. “My daughter used to turn the heat up to 70, because it was always cold,” Anna explained. “Now I don’t turn the thermostat past 65 anymore.”.
For more than 50 years, Anna had dealt with drafts in her vintage 1850s home in Newark, NY. When her furnace started acting up, her contractor had a different solution in mind than simply replacing equipment.
The contractor referred Anna to NYSERDA’s Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program, which helped her complete a top-to-bottom upgrade of her home’s energy efficiency by providing a free comprehensive home energy assessment, a grant, and low-interest financing. Today, Anna’s home is toastier than it’s ever been. “The insulation has made such a difference. And it was done at a real savings to me,” she said.
Hollow Walls with No Insulation
Although Anna’s three-bedroom, 1850s Victorian home is modest in size, she was spending an excessive amount of money to heat it each winter—and still it was always cold. As is common in structures of its era, the house was built with hollow walls lined with lath and plaster on the inside. Poorly sealed windows and doors compounded the problem, letting heat leak out and drafts blow in. Called in to inspect Anna’s failing furnace, her contractor suspected the underlying causes of her draftiness problem.
A Top-to-Bottom Solution
Her contractor completed a comprehensive home energy assessment, offering Anna a complete understanding of her home’s energy efficiency at no cost to her. After completing the assessment, the contractor recommended replacing the furnace and the hot water heater, installing insulation throughout the house, caulking windows and weatherstripping doors. The goal was to reduce air leakage, the primary culprit behind Anna’s cold rooms and costly heating bills. Thanks to affordable financing and a $5,000 grant from NYSERDA’s Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, Anna was able to say yes to the contractor’s recommendations.
Lower Energy Bills and Greater Warmth
Today, the drafts in Anna’s home are gone—the improvements cut air leakage by 61 percent. Anna no longer pays for heat that escapes through poorly insulated walls and leaky windows and doors.“It’s quite a difference,” she said. “My gas and electric bills have really gone down. I’m on the budget plan, and right now I’m $218 in my favor. That’s never happened before.” Anna is also happy to report that her monthly loan payments are affordable and well worth the modest expense. But for her, cost savings are only part of the benefit of her improved home. “I love to bake,” she said. “Now I could just live in my kitchen, it’s so warm and comfortable. I’m so thrilled about all the improvements that were made.”
Background & Challenges
- Old lath and plaster walls with no insulation
- Cold, drafty rooms
- High energy costs
- New high-efficiency furnace with programmable thermostat
- Energy-saving hot water heater
- Blown-in cellulose wall insulation
- Expandable foam insulation around rim joist in basement
- Weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows
- Increased comfort and warmth—air leakage reduced by 61 percent
- Lower energy bills; estimated energy savings of at least $54 per month
- No more icicles
- Received $5,000 matching grant, $900 tax credit*, and low interest loan through NYSERDA’s Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program