This is my first time in this home, and it’s my first time meeting the people who own it. However, I know a little about them. I have two years’ worth of electricity-usage data that tells me they use a lot of power—especially in the winter. Granted, we live in Minnesota, and it requires a lot of energy to keep warm during the long winters but this home uses far more than most.
I’m conducting this energy assessment in late 2019. Visiting at this time of year ensures my best guess as to what I am seeing and helps me tease out the reasons why electricity usage and/or heating fuel costs are exceeding a homeowner’s expectations. This assessment is a free service offered by the electricity provider serving this home.
When I arrive, I’m met with a common question, “Where do we begin?” I tell the owners of this large, McMansion-style home built in 2010 that I will be asking several questions. My aim is to learn all I can about how the house was built, what equipment is operating in and around the home, and how the homeowners occupy it—meaning their habits. All of the questions I ask are targeted at figuring out why they use up to 10 times the electricity of a more efficient home.
Right off the bat, I learn they have two geothermal heating systems, one supplying forced-air heating and air conditioning to the two main levels, plus a second hydronic unit heating the basement floor and garage—a clue! I also find out the house has six bedrooms, a total of 5200 sq. ft., and five occupants. A quick estimation of three finished floors with tall ceilings tells me the house is in the neighborhood of 40,000 cu. ft. That’s a…