Marianne Pelletier and her wife — Laura Staubes — couldn’t walk around their Enfield farmhouse barefoot because it was so cold.
“It was cold,” Marianne said. “You couldn't walk around barefoot, so I was slowly doing things myself, like fixing windows ... but it still wasn’t getting far enough fast enough.”
In 2011, they worked with a local energy contractor to insulate their home. They also purchased a new furnace and a wood stove. These changes not only made their home more comfortable, but cut their annual heat-related energy expenses in half.
First steps to a warmer home
Marianne said she first found out about the benefits of insulating her home and taking steps toward energy efficiency after listening to a presentation given by an employee of Snug Planet, a local company working with building energy efficiency and renewable heating technologies.
The first step, she said, was to have an audit conducted on their home by Snug Planet through a New York State program to determine how best to make their home both more comfortable and energy efficient. She said she was also income-eligible for a rebate on the audit, making the process more accessible. After the audit, Marianne received recommendations to insulate their house to reduce energy use and improve the comfort of their home.
To help pay for the insulation work, Marianne said she took out a loan with NYSERDA.
“When they explained to us how much we would save, we decided it was worth it to take the loan,” Marianne said. “Especially with the loan rate that we were going to get, and also with the rebates. At the time, there were tax rebates like crazy.”
The benefits of working with a company like Snug Planet, she said, was having someone guide them through the process of getting work done on their home. She said the contractor took care of the paperwork, working with NYSERDA, and figuring out what the next steps were in the process of upgrading her home.
After the audit was conducted, the work was completed on their home. their home was insulated — their walls and their attic — and they also purchased a new wood stove and replaced their old furnace.
Marianne said she even got a tax credit for her wood stove.
“We went down and got a new wood stove that was more suitable for the house and got a nice some tax credit for it,” she said.
She also said their home was much warmer and more comfortable after the work was completed.
“Once they once they came in, and they insulated the most of the walls, and firmed up the basement … suddenly, the house was warmer, and I could walk around barefoot in the winter,” she said.
She said the home comfort benefits also extend into the summer.
“It takes longer for the house overheat in the summer because it's insulated,” Marianne said. “So it’s just June now, and the house still isn't hot. Of course it isn't hot outside. But it will be halfway into July before the house starts getting hot and we have to really think about cranking up the air conditioning.”
Other benefits from insulating their home include reduced humidity, better quality sleep, fewer problems with pests due to insulation, and a more comfortable experience for house guests.
“People would come over to the house and have dinner with us and sit in the dining room and be freezing,” she said.
After having the work done, she said, their home is now much more comfortable for guests.
“And now, people will come over and have dinner with us!”
Financial benefits far into the future
Marianne said another major benefit of having energy efficiency work done on her home is the money savings that come with using less energy.
“When I did the math, my annual oil expense went from what I think was $4,700...it dropped to $2,000,” she said, referring to the new cost for propane and her wood stove. “We cut the heating expense in half.”
She said the money she saved more than covered her loan payments, meaning that she even had money leftover.
“We were actually making money on the deal, because that savings was more than what we're paying in loan payments,” Marianne said.
The next step Marianne wants to take in energy upgrades on their home is getting a heat pump — a step she said she also plans to take with Snug Planet.
“The way to think about it is that doing this work, doing it right, means that it costs nothing,” Marianne said. “It can even lead to a profit for people who are thoughtful about how they get it done and how they spend their energy after.
Marianne said she also made energy efficiency choices for environmental reasons to reduce her carbon footprint.
“The best thing that I did was hire one company that was about environmental savings and is working toward ... fossil fuel independence,” she said.
Article by Communications Intern Maggie McAden