Discover how one family's choice made a surprising difference at home.

Samantha and Eric are all smiles after their home energy audit.

Samantha and Eric bought their house in 2010. They loved the big cottage in Saint Paul's Hamline-Midway neighborhood with its airy eat-in kitchen, welcoming entry, comfortable living spaces, breezy front and back porches and affordable two-bedrooms. The diverse, lively neighborhood and coming Green Line light rail just a few blocks away were icing on the cake!

The couple did their due diligence before buying the house. Their home inspector pointed out that the furnace and the water heater had some time left on them. However, according to Samantha, the windows "were really bad—this is a 102 year old house—but I’ve always heard that it was a better bang for your buck to do the insulation, so we were kind of going back and forth on what to do. The wood frames on the windows were rotting. The latches were bad. The paint was chipping. In the end we decided to do full-on insulation and the windows, assuming that energy prices were going to go up and up and up and up. And obviously that hasn’t happened," she laughed.

"But what we have noticed," she continued, "is that the comfort level in the house is just totally amazing, all the time. Everybody who visits is always shocked that we don’t have air conditioning, unless it’s a really hot spell and it’s been really muggy for a long period of time. But otherwise, I wear a sweatshirt in the house sometimes in the summer. Even when it’s really hot."

While they love their new wood windows, it's their insulated walls and attic that make their home so comfortable during hot and cold seasons. Eric and Samantha also practice simple energy-saving techniques. They open their windows at night and close them in the morning, drawing the shades to reduce solar gain. When it gets really hot they use a fan to draw in and circulate cooler night air. They've made good use of NEC programs to save energy, too, including an Xcel Energy Home Energy Audit and Home Energy Squad visit.

According to Samantha, "We got an NEC energy audit after we bought the house. That was really cool. Besides conducting a thorough energy analysis and giving me recommendations, the auditor also took thermal images of my cats—that was very charming."

The couple turned to the NEC not only for energy diagnostics, but for special energy project financing and support, too. Samantha said, "We have a kind of weird roofline, so the NEC was able to point me in the right direction of an insulation contractor who is experienced with those kind of rooflines. Before that, one of the bids—one guy wanted to put like 35,000 holes on the inside of my walls! The contractor that we eventually went with--Tom See and his son Caleb--did most of it from the outside by just pulling a few pieces of siding off and filling mostly from the outside. I think we ended up having maybe three or four holes drilled inside. So then we just had to repaint those areas. Not a big deal."

Their choice has paid off in more ways than one. Eric pointed out a recent report they'd received from Xcel Energy showing that the couple uses 57% less energy than their most efficient neighbor. Samantha believes that their ability to avoid air conditioning in the summer means lots of energy savings plus reduced utility bills. She emphasizes that, "It’s just so comfortable. That’s the thing that I did not anticipate. I should probably have some paraphernalia to give to people when they come over and say, “Wow, your home’s so comfortable!”

If you're hot at home, let us help you find a solution. The NEC has expertise and resources to help homeowners of every housing type and at every income level, from zero-interest deferred home improvement loans to large utility rebates. There is truly something for everyone. If you or someone you know is interested in a more comfortable, durable, and affordable home, send us an email or call the NEC today at 651-221-4462 ext. 132.