Victorian charm meets energy efficiency
Myles Kroll looked equally at home serving cucumber sandwiches and tea as he did introducing guests to the chickens in the back-40. The June 2012 celebration marked the transformation of his yard into an urban homestead, and completion of energy efficient upgrades to improve the comfort, safety and sustainability of his home. The Victorian-themed party to honor the historical period of his home was icing on the cake.
York neighbor Myles Kroll is one of 35 KulshanCLT homeowners participating in weatherization programs, including the Community Energy Challenge (CEC), to make energy efficiency upgrades to improve the comfort, safety and sustainability of home. KulshanCLT requires homes pass rigorous inspection before coming into the trust. However, energy efficiency varies from home to home, often dependent on date built and upgrades since initial construction. Homes in this cohort range from 1900 to 2007, most constructed in the 1920s, well before the first energy code was adopted in 1979 and falling short of modern energy-efficiency standards.
Myles’ is one of those homes, built in 1905. “I know because I researched the history of this home at the Washington State Archives on Bill McDonald Parkway,” he said, flipping through the photo album. “In this copy of a 1909 photo you can see that it was one of the first houses on the block. I found out that it had four updates before the latest work was done.”
Opportunity Council’s Building Performance Center first insulated floor, ceilings and walls, plus installed smoke detectors and a bath fan. Next, through their rehab program, they upgraded Myles electrical system and replaced his gas heater, gutters and downspouts. Once that work was done Clint Vadnais of Great Northwest Home Works installed double-paned vinyl windows, new floors and painted the exterior utilizing the City of Bellingham’s Home Rehab Program. Because Myles was income-qualified, the first phase of improvements was paid for with grants, and the city-sponsored work will be repaid when Myles sells his home. Myles works at Brambleberry and was able to purchase Energy Star washer and dryer to complete his home improvements.
“I feel the house is coming back to life,” Myles mused as he showed guest the Victorian-style couch, end table and wooden box-telephone he picked up at yard sales. “I think the house is happier, restored to its historic character. I especially love walking on the new wood floors in my socks.”
Like Myles, other KulshanCLT homeowners have completed home energy and utilized the Building Performance Center and City Rehab Programs in tanden with the Community Energy Challenge. So far, most KulshanCLT homeowners have addressed the ‘low hanging fruit’ – the easiest and most cost-effective improvements they can afford, completing the work themselves and hiring local contractors for items requiring technical finesse.
So far, homeowners have made over $80,000 in collective improvements, about one-third of the estimated cost of improvements. If each homeowner completes all recommended upgrades, together they will reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint by more than 50% and realize a total of $10,000 annual energy cost savings – more than $400 per household. These exceed 2020 projected targets of energy consumption and carbon footprint reductions for Washington State.
Energy cost savings have a significant impact on the budget of a typical KulshanCLT household – a family of three earning 62% of area median income, or $36,500. Research suggests that an energy efficiency investment of about $2,500 could provide an energy saving of up to 30% or more per year.
The average estimated cost of improvements per KulshanCLT CEC participant is $9,000. These homeowners may recoup their investment in home retrofits through annual energy cost savings within eight to ten years or less.
“KulshanCLT is committed to helping our homeowners improve the longevity and sustainability of their homes by participating in the Community Energy Challenge and other community weatherization programs,” said Dean Fearing. “In these times of declining resources and high energy costs, KulshanCLT encourages our homeowners to make wise choices about energy consumption and conservation that will benefit generations of homeowners.”
For his part, Myles is eager to see what his energy costs savings will be. “I am hoping my costs will go down by 30% of more,” said Myles. “I am also hoping my chickens will start laying soon. I can’t wait to try their eggs!”
If you would like to donate to the Housing Reserve Fund, contact Christina Olson at 360-671-5600, ext 107 or ChristinaOlson@KulshanCLT.org