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Weatherization: The Proof is in the Bill

Recently I went online to check how much money we'd saved on our electricity bill since our house was weatherized in June 2022. When we moved in, while we had a hybrid heat pump (mini split in the living area, ducted unit in the crawlspace to vent heat into the bedrooms), the free energy audit we got from the City of Seattle showed that we literally had NO insulation in three walls of our home. None. Nada. The house was built in 1950 and so the only insulation was in the addition built around 2000, so it was wasting a LOT of heat that the HP was working so hard to create for us. Thanks to the HomeWise program, we were able to qualify for $11,000 worth of insulation, duct / leak sealing, and whole-house ventilation upgrades....for free.

Something I share with whoever will listen is to always go check and see what your city, county and state offer for weatherization programs! When I was a first time homeowner, the audits were free but the work itself was only discounted. Nowadays, programs are much more robust, and in Seattle, the maximum income for a household of two I believe is around $65-70K and for a family of 4, I believe around $110K. So it's not just for those under the poverty line, like many folks might assume. Sadly, many cities like Seattle are *terrible* at marketing these programs - I had to research it just to find out it existed! And it took some persistence to get responses from an office that required a 13 page physical paper application instead of an easy-to-process online application, but it worked...and has been SO worth it.

Since the work was done last June, I pulled up our winter (bimonthly) bill, which also was the best comparison because the average temperature was listed to be nearly identical in both 2022 and 2023. The results were pretty amazing, I gotta say.

As you can see, we saved $52 on just one bill compared to the prior year! And along with that, in the below graphic, you'll see how considerably less electricity was used to keep our home warm (and out of the dark) thanks to the weatherization work we had done.

Here's the thing: not all of us are in the income bracket to a) afford the upfront &/or total costs of solar, or b) qualify for the 30% tax credits that the administration passed. While I applaud any additional incentives for energy efficiency and renewables, this administration did not make solar any more accessible for the working class and senior citizens who own their homes but cannot afford the average $25K to solarize. So this is where you start: weatherization. Some folks think "oh this is just weatherstripping". Oh, no, not even close! Not only did the contractors blow in insulation into the three empty walls, they topped off the insulation in the attic and crawlspace, did the air-blower test to see where cold air is getting in and warm air is escaping (and vice versa), they also installed a whole house system in the attic connected to their newly-installed bath fans, insulated around the water heater and ducts in the crawlspace, and tons of other details a regular homemaker might not think of. Our bathroom fans even have timers on them now to ensure they're used efficiently!

And the best part, the entire job was done in a day and a half, then the energy auditor came back and did another audit to test it all. So cool. And so free.

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” ~ Robert Swan, polar explorer


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