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From Drafty to Dreamy

People emPOWERing Princeton: from Drafty to Dreamy

insulation in house

Meet Becca and Carolyn, homeowners in Princeton who recently embarked on a transformative journey to improve their home’s comfort and energy efficiency. Dissatisfied with high utility bills and inconsistent temperatures, they decided to take action. Becca recalls, “We found ourselves cranking up the heat in the winter and the AC in the summer to try to get comfortable, but it always felt like a losing battle. Our PSE&G bills were staggeringly expensive considering that we were never really comfortable.” Becca heard about the PSE&G Home Energy Assessments through Sustainable Princeton and called PSE&G to find out which energy efficiency programs they qualified for.

Home Energy Assessments

They started with a free Quick Home Energy Check (QHEC), provided by PSE&G, which highlighted basic energy-saving measures and provided them with free smart plugs and LED light bulbs. Encouraged by this initial step, they also opted for a more detailed Home Performance with Energy Star assessment through Ciel Power, a participating PSE&G contractor.

Before the assessment, a representative from Ciel walked Becca and Carolyn through the entire process. After they were comfortable with the process, they were able to schedule their assessment. Becca shared that the certified technician “tested everything!”

Ciel’s thorough assessment included inspecting appliances, testing for gas leaks and carbon monoxide, and using advanced technology like infrared scans and blower tests to identify areas where air was escaping. They took photos and assessed all their appliances: their furnace, water heater, thermostat, AC, dryer, etc. They even found a fire hazard where the dryer vent tubing was installed incorrectly. The assesment took around 2-3 hours and all of the information collected was used to create a custom report.

insulation thermostat

The Report

insulation blower door

Once all the information was assessed by Ciel’s team, Becca and Carolyn had a phone call with their point of contact at Ciel. The representative emailed them their report and went over the findings and answered any questions they had. She explained the recommended energy efficiency upgrades and ranked them in order of importance. She also gave them an estimated cost of making the upgrades and what incentives and rebates they qualified for.

Becca noted her surprise after talking over the report, “We knew it was drafty and that our bills were high, but we were surprised by just how much work needed to be done.,” Becca admitted the report showed their home “had 1.01 air changes per hour; ideally, there should be no more than 0.35”. Their house was basically uninsulated! Their home had an R-value of zero, meaning there was no resistance stopping the outside air from coming in. With this information in hand they knew they wanted to make some improvements.

Improvements Made

Armed with Ciel’s comprehensive report, Becca and Carolyn chose to seal, insulate, and encapsulate their home. Addressing issues such as improper dryer vent installation and inadequate insulation significantly improved their home’s efficiency. Becca emphasized, “They didn’t pressure us. They laid out all the results of the assessments and the cost to fix each item. We were able to get the house sealed, insulated, and encapsulated.” Becca shared how Ciel took care of everything including scheduling all the subcontractors. All Becca and Carolyn needed to do was decide who would work from home while the subcontractors were working.

insulation ladder

Rebates and Incentives

insulation wall

The financial incentives were a game-changer for Becca and Carolyn. Becca spoke about the benefits saying “After the improvements were completed, we had another audit. We are saving 20% more energy! We also received a Pearl Certification which will increase our home’s value.” Aside from the energy bill savings they also received a refund for the assessment cost and utilized incentives that covered over 20% of the upgrade expenses. Furthermore, PSE&G offered a zero-interest payment plan, making the improvements financially feasible. Becca advises others, “The incentives and zero-interest payment plan may not last, so get an audit soon!”

Looking to the Future

With their home now more energy-efficient and comfortable, Becca and Carolyn are eagerly anticipating a cozier winter ahead. While they’ve made substantial improvements, such as reducing their energy usage by 20%, they’re also considering future projects recommended by Ciel, like transitioning to a heat pump. “It’s not in our budget right now, but we’re happy with the steps we’ve taken,” Becca shared.

Becca and Carolyn’s journey demonstrates the positive impact of home energy assessments and improvements. By addressing inefficiencies and taking advantage of available incentives, they’ve not only enhanced their comfort but also reduced their environmental footprint. Their story serves as inspiration for homeowners looking to improve their homes’ efficiency and comfort levels while making a positive impact on their finances and the environment.

Are you ready to be more energy efficient?

Schedule a home energy assessment through one of PSE&G’s programs

Check out Princeton’s residential energy efficiency campaign:

  • Hear from Mayor Mark Freda
  • Learn which program you qualify for
  • Choose from selected contractors
  • Get your questions answered!

Visit the website to learn more