Renovating an older home to improve its energy efficiency isn't rocket science, as the Town of Somerset, a Chevy Chase municipality, recently proved
Last fall, its town hall was renovated to become about 25 percent more efficient in keeping cold air outside the building, project contractor Ryan Gavin—of Standard Energy Solutions, a Standard Solar Company—estimated.
The renovations to the town hall—originally a single-family home built in 1902—improved the thermal envelope of the building, and included sealing the attic and the crawl spaces below the building and putting caulking around exterior window and door frames. The renovations cost just under $7,000 and were funded by a grant from Maryland’s EmPOWER Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, funded by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Council Member Marnie Shaul reported in the October 2012 edition of the Somerset Town Journal.
"Most of the work that was performed involved performing air sealing and insulation improvements. In this climate zone, usually 50 [percent, give or take a little] of your energy usage is for heating and cooling a home. By upgrading insulation and air sealing the home, you can drastically cut these costs," Gavin wrote in an email to Patch.
"The 25 [percent] improvement is an excellent result and means that much less unconditioned outdoor air [can] enter the building ... reducing drafts and heating and cooling costs. It is difficult to figure the exact savings, but our average homeowner sees a 20 [percent] drop in utility bills, and I expect the town hall will see around that number or better," he added.
It is too soon to determine the total energy savings from the project, town manager and clerk-treasurer Richard Charnovich said. "A year trend would be a much better [and more] accurate assessment once a year has gone by."
Maryland homeowners looking to improve the energy efficiency of their homes currently are eligible "to receive $100 energy audits (a $400 value), which test the health, safety and efficiency of the home and its systems. ... [Work] performed under the program is eligible for a 50 [percent] rebate up to $2,000," Gavin added.
What renovations or repairs have you made to your home to make it more energy efficient? What was the simplest repair that got you the most energy savings per dollar? Did you perform the work yourself or hire a contractor? Tell us in the comments.