Having the “Community Energy Challenge” Work Performed On My Duplexes

If you haven’t read the first post about my deciding to undergo the Community Energy Challenge (CEC) on my Roosevelt neighborhood duplexes, please go read that first.

As I mentioned in that post, the work began with an energy audit of both buildings. “Energy audit” is a fancy term for using various tools to check for leaks, too little insulation, over-consumptive appliances, fixtures, bulbs, high-flowing faucets and shower heads… things of that nature.

Because the duplexes are (obviously) tenant-occupied, I prepped (“gave legal notice to”) all 4 tenants for several hours of disruptive testing and analyzing.

*(Keep in mind, this mere “analysis visit” amounted to a rounding error in the overall amount of time there would be contractors and other inspectors on site in all 4 apartments, much less on, under, and over the buildings. If you have tenants with a high level of resistance to disruption and work by contractors, etc… you should probably forego the CEC until they’ve moved on. It will be like a small-scale remodel is taking place.)

When the results were in from the energy audit, I got a call from the CEC main office to meet in person and look over the results. As expected… these 1984 buildings that hadn’t been updated since the day they were built, were in somewhat horrific shape in terms of their leakage and over-consumption of energy. The report was full of informative charts and graphs that painted a clear picture of “lots of room for improvement”.

Per the CEC’s estimates, each building was unnecessarily using over $800 per energy per year — and that was conservative. The report listed the specific areas of improvement, too,

They recommended the following:

  • Air-sealing the ceiling plane. This means using blocking, expanding foam and caulk to seal any gaps around electrical boxes, the bath fan,  heating ducts, plumbing penetrations, anything that lets air leak out of the heated interior space up into the cold attic and out the vents.
  • Air-sealing the floor plane, the same as above.
  • Install new weather strips and floor sweeps on all the exterior doors.
  • Complete removal of all insulation in the attic, cleaning out rodent droppings and any debris, then build a dam around the entry hatch and install extended baffles that hold insulation away from the soffit vents, all for the new, much, much deeper insulation that then goes in. (The attic went from an estimated R-13 rating (dismal heat containing ability) to R-60!!!
  • Complete removal of all crawl space insulation and old vapor barrier, and subsequent clean-out of any rodent droppings, debris, etc. before re-installing new, more effective R-30 insulation, and a brand new vapor barrier.
  • Construct new, tight-fitting, insulated crawl space hatch covers.
  • Insulate all water supply pipes.
  • Insulate the furnace supply plenum and replace and seal heating ducts where any damaged ones exist.
  • Re-duct the clothes dryers with smooth-wall ducts, minimizing bends, turns and overall duct distance to outlet.
  • Install low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators.
  • Install new, low-sohn bathroom exhaust fans on “smart switches” that cycle the fans every hour to keep air exchanges occurring in the new, much-tighter spaces.

Now, again, these were recommendations made by the crew at CEC. I could do none of it, any portion, or — as was my desire — all of it.

My next step was to get bids from any licensed contractor I wanted. In my case, though, I was set on using CAZ Energy Systems for the work, since they were the ones who recommended it in the first place, and because I’d worked with them for multiple different clients in the past.

(There was one exception, and that was the bathroom fans. I opted to hire an electrician we’d used in the past for that  job. All four fans and switches, installed and ducted through the roofs, cost $2000.)

As for the other work, CAZ’s bid arrived and the full retail cost per building was $10,726.94. But after rebates from the CEC and the utility companies, that price was reduced to $5792.74 per building.

I signed off, the work was scheduled, and the tenants notified.

In the next and final post, I’ll write about the work being completed, and the monthly utility cost savings the tenants began realizing.