A road map for energy savings

Energy Fit Homes offer a personalized ‘map’ to help homeowners avoid roadblocks and open the way to energy-saving comfort

Many homeowners know that they could be doing more to improve the efficiency of their home, but knowing where to start can cause some mental roadblocks.

Part of the mission of the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) is to help homeowners figure out what needs to be done to make their home more efficient, and create a clear path to make it happen. CEE created Energy Fit Homes to do just that. Energy Fit Homes is a certification program designed for existing homes that focuses on cost-effective upgrades. With Energy Fit Homes, homeowners can learn how their home stacks up against energy efficiency standards and what upgrades are needed to improve their home’s performance.

CEE works with Twin Cities communities to bring Energy Fit Homes to residents, which is how Minneapolis residents Andrew and Terra Erickson first learned about the program. The Erickson’s Minneapolis neighborhood hosted an event that included a presentation on how to prepare for winter, and at one point the group’s conversation turned to Energy Fit Homes.

The first step to get certified as an Energy Fit Home is a home energy assessment to evaluate the efficiency of five main areas of the home: insulation and air sealing, heating system, windows, lighting, and ventilation and combustion safety. Homes receive an Energy Fitness Score from 0 to 100 — the higher the score, the more efficient the home. A score above 95 qualifies for the certificate, and homes scoring lower receive a report mapping the upgrades needed to achieve the certificate.

The Ericksons were especially eager to learn more about their home’s insulation levels. Improving their insulation was something they had talked about since they purchased the home, but they worried about potential expenses. “We were concerned that the upfront cost of insulating the house would be too much for us to afford,” says Andrew. “Then we received a quote at the assessment that told us the cost would be several thousand dollars cheaper than we expected, and we also learned that there were really great financing options available through CEE.”

When they learned that upgrading insulation would raise their Energy Fitness Score from 59 to over 95 and qualify their home as “energy fit,” the Erickson’s decided to go for it. And although they have no plans to sell their home, they know the certificate could come in handy when the time is right. In the meantime they are happy to celebrate their well-earned Energy Fit Homes certification with neighbors by proudly displaying it in their front window.

When asked what he would say to a neighbor who is thinking about moving ahead with a home energy assessment to certify their home, Andrew said, “Do it! We just couldn’t be happier with our experience. The staff and contractors at every stage have been knowledgeable and helpful, and we are thrilled with the results!”

Helen Booth-Tobin is a policy and communications specialist at the Center for Energy and Environment, a Minneapolis nonprofit that delivers practical energy solutions for homes, businesses, and communities.

Learn more about the Energy Fit Homes at mnenergyfit.org, and then call CEE’s Beth Greeninger at 612-335-5874 to schedule a home visit and get started on your own path to certification.