Blog: Gabrielle Adds Insulation, Ditches Drafts

A well-insulated attic

It’s a difference best expressed by blankets:

Before Gabrielle and her partner David worked with the NEC Energy Advisor Service, they kept their thermostat at 58 on winter nights and slept under a heavy down comforter.

After consulting with the Energy Advisor Service and adding attic insulation, they now only need a thin summer blanket to stay warm—and they still keep their thermostat at 58 degrees.

Their two-story 1937 Como Park home had always been drafty and expensive to heat. “We’ve lived here for 11 years,” says Gabrielle “and it’s always been really cold. In the winter we walk around the house in hats, sweaters and heavy slippers.” Last Gabrielle and David got sick of their $300-400 winter heating bills and decided to take action.

“You’d Walk by the Windows and Feel a Breeze”

Initially, Gabrielle and David thought their home’s charming but drafty original windows were the main culprit. But after receiving a $20,000 bid for new windows, they decided to get a home energy audit through Xcel Energy and the NEC, just to be sure.

They were glad they did: “That $100 audit saved us around $17,000. The auditor discovered that our main source of heat loss was through our attic, not our windows.

It wasn’t the couple’s first experience with an insulation project. A contractor had installed additional insulation several years ago, but it wasn’t to the recommended standard and they didn’t notice a difference in their home’s comfort.

Help From the Energy Advisor Service

This time, however, Gabrielle worked with the NEC’s free Energy Advisor Service. Danielle, an NEC advisor, helped guide Gabrielle through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. Danielle provided a list of approved contractors, helped review bids and made sure that Gabrielle received the energy efficiency rebates she was eligible for.

Gabrielle appreciated the connections to quality contractors and Energy Advisor Service’s step-by-step assistance: “The process was well laid out and Danielle was super helpful: she told me ‘here’s what you have to do, here’s how to do it, here’s a list of contractors.’ After I got my three bids, she was instrumental in helping me follow through with it.”

Gabrielle’s main project was adding insulation and air sealing her attic.  She also added air vents for safety, installed a programmable thermostat and 12 new LED light bulbs.

“The difference,” Gabrielle says, “was immediate—we could feel that even at 57 or 58 degrees the house was much more comfortable and efficient.”

Xcel Energy Utility Rebates

Through her work with the Energy Advisor Service, Gabrielle was able to get a Home Performance rebate for the insulation and the LED bulbs.

“With the insulation rebate, our $3,600 job was only $3,200, so that was a nice bonus,” she said.

While Gabrielle is still waiting for her first post-project utility bill, she’s already reaping the benefits of increased indoor comfort during the icy Minnesota winter. In fact, she’s been able to ditch the hat and slippers and wear a T-shirt around the house, while still keeping the thermostat set to 62.

Her advice for homeowners considering making a home energy investment?

“Before you make any decisions about what you’re going to do, get an energy audit. It’s an important first step and is well worth the investment.”


Learn more about the NEC's Home Energy Audit program.


 Max Bielenberg is a communications specialist with the Neighborhood Energy Connection. He helps to tell the NEC’s story through social media, blog posts and website content. When he’s not reading up on residential energy savings, he enjoys riding his bike around town. You can connect with Max on LinkedIn.