Old Homes Warm Up To Residential Retrofits

Love old, turn-of-the-century homes, but hate enduring cold winters due to lack of insulation and old windows? It’s a common problem that many homeowners deal with year after year. But warmth could be on the way in some states, thanks to new retrofit programs. One such program is Clean Energy Works Oregon (CEWO). The program, which launched last year in Oregon, provides financial incentives for home performance improvements.

Portland, Ore. homeowner Jody Naff recently took advantage of the retrofit program for her 1912 cottage. “I just wanted to be warm, and I’m so happy with the result,” Naff said in a statement put out by Hammer & Hand, the contractor that did her work. “After the CEWO retrofit I’m using less energy and I’m warm. Before, I kept the heat on just enough so I wouldn’t freeze to death!”

image via Hammer & Hand

Home energy retrofits can add as much as 30 percent energy efficiency to an older home. The process starts with a home energy audit where contractors compile a list of things to change or update which can add to a home’s efficiency. In the case of the Portland cottage, contractors decided to replace knob and tube wiring, remove old insulation, air seal and blow in high-density cellulose insulation, install an on-demand tankless hot water heater and high-efficiency furnace and install a high-performance WhisperGreen continuous exhaust fan to provide fresh air to the house in an efficient, controlled flow.

The result was not only a warmer home, but a more welcoming home. “Now friends and family don’t make fun of me anymore for how cold my house is,” Naff said. “And they can take their coats off when they come over.” By the end of 2013, Clean Energy Works Oregon aims to complete 6,000 home energy retrofits which will result in the savings of more than 300,000 MBTUs of energy and reduce measure-life carbon dioxide by 200,000 metric tons.

Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.