Matt Shimon had a pretty good idea of what he wanted in his home: four bedrooms, wrap around porches, a big kitchen with marble countertops and the latest appliances and a finished basement to serve as their design studio.
The built-in energy efficiency came as a bonus.
“It really wasn’t a top priority for us but now that we’ve been in the house for six years and have seen the energy savings and felt the additional comfort as a result of the efficiency measures, we’re more sold than ever that it was a great idea.”
Shimon and his husband Mike Cuthbert relied on their builder, Homes by Tradition, to choose things that were smart and energy efficient. The builder worked with Xcel Energy’s Efficient New Home Construction program to include a variety of measures. They installed energy-efficient lighting in the form of CFLs and LEDs, efficient heating and cooling equipment, extra insulation and high performance windows.
“With our business in our home, we’re here most of the day. We probably use more energy than a typical household. We realized that small changes in our daily routine added up to big savings. Take for example lighting, we swapped out the lights we used most and replaced them with LEDs. The other lights are already CFLs, so they are already more efficient than incandescents.”
Shimon says there were a few things they chose that he would recommend to others.
“We invested in a high-efficiency furnace with multiple zones and radiant heating system in the basement which came with additional insulation under the slab. Those two things help keep the home stay heated and cooled consistently.” They also chose a tankless water heater, which consumers are still gradually accepting and understanding.
The measures have paid off. Shimon compared his energy bills from 2016 in their current 5,000-square-foot four-story home, with bills from their previous home in south Minneapolis, a cape cod in the Diamond Lake area which was about 1,900 square feet.
“Our gas bill in 2010 averaged $82 per month and we paid about $.92 a therm back then. Last winter, in our new home, we paid about $89 per month. Gas is now down to $.80 a therm so it’s a little lower, but that’s an amazing difference since our home size more than doubled.”
Shimon and Cuthbert’s energy efficiency work isn’t quite done yet. They have many of their lights on timers so they switch on and off automatically. They’ve also replaced older bulbs for LEDs and are considering adding renewable options. Programmable thermostats work with a multiple zone HVAC system to adjust the temperature throughout the day.”
“We looked at which rooms we used the most and started there,” says Shimon.
When they look back at the energy efficiency measures installed and how they’ve performed overall, Shimon says they’re very happy.
“There were some unexpected benefits we didn’t consider—the wrap around porch shades the house and keeps it cooler in the summer, and protects it from the North wind in the winter,” says Shimon.
Would they do things differently next time? Maybe – but for now, they’re happy with the home, and the efficiency measures that will continue to pay for themselves for years to come.
Find your new energy-efficient home on the Parade of Homes Green Path Energy Tour brought to you by Xcel Energy.