Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Time to Call the Professionals

Thursday, March 27, 2014

As you all know, I'm on a quest to squeeze out every penny of energy savings that I possibly can.  J.'s brother and wife had a professional energy audit done last year and, after implementing the recommendations, they significantly warmed up their finished basement and lowered their heating and cooling bills. At the time, I poo-pooed it, thinking that there was no way an energy audit of our holier-than-swiss-cheese old house.  (In my subconscious, I may actually have been afraid that they would recommend we bulldoze and start over!)

After doing some research, however, I discovered an Energy Star program offered by our local utilities (KCPL and MGE) where they will reimburse you up to $1200 for energy improvements.  That includes $400 for an audit by a certified energy auditor (which is the going rate) and then up to $800 if you implement just one of the auditor's recommendations.  The amount you can receive back depends on the improvements you made.  For example:

  • Additional attic insulation up to R-49 is eligible for 2 cents x the R-value x sq footage
  • Additional wall insulation up to R-19 is eligible for 3 cents x R-value x sq footage
  • Air sealing is eligible for $10 for each % you lower air leakage up to 40%
  • New windows\doors are eligible for $100 each

We just had our energy audit done and it was extremely informative.  They perform a "blower test" where they open one outside door to your house and then seal it off with a big airtight tarp-looking-thing that has a huge fan at the bottom.  The fan sucks all the air out of your house, and this helps indicate where air is leaking IN.  The auditor asked me to come up to our attic and, as I hit the bottom of the stairs, I could feel the cold air rushing past me.  We obviously have an insulation problem up there.  According to him, basements are the "leakiest", followed by attics.  They measure the blower door test in percentages and he explained that his brand new home measures at 40%, meaning that when his furnace or AC is on, he's heating or cooling 40% of that air every hour. Here's ours:

Um, yeah.....

He left me with 5 things that we need to look at and told me the good news is that they're all easy and they're all covered under the rebate.

  1. Insulate the crawl space and walls in our addition (already planned!)
  2. Insulate the rim joist in the basement
  3. Increase the attic insulation to R-49 with blown-in insulation
  4. Weatherstrip the doors in the attic and caulk\weatherstrip windows and doors all over the house, including caulking around the ceiling vent in the bathroom.  That's not something I probably would have thought of, but he noted it was VERY leaky!
  5. Replace the remaining lightbulbs with CFLs or LEDS (already planned!)

If we do these things, the auditor said he's certain that we could lower our bills by at least 25%.  Here's a snapshot from the report that he gave us showing current energy costs and what we could save.

That's not bad, considering much of what we need to do is easy and will be paid for with the rebate and several of the things on the list were already on our to-do list.

The best part of this?  I paid no money out of pocket for this.  The auditor helps you do the rebate form, and then the rebate goes directly to him.  You keep the savings!

If you're in the Kansas City area and are interested in having an energy audit, I can highly recommend the contractor that did our test.  Email me at crankypuppy@gmail.com and I'll get you the information.  The only thing I ask is that you let him know we referred you, as he does pay a small referral fee.  :-)  

Hey, every little bit helps...


I've shared this post as part of this week's HomeAcre blog hop.  Go check it out!


  1. We had an audit done a couple of years ago - our local Gas & Electric company provided the service for free - we didn't even have to get a reimbursement! They like to do them, because the more efficient their customers are, the longer they can delay building a new plant. It pays to call your Energy company & ask : )

  2. Very interesting. Our electric company has been promoting several discounts on these audits, but I haven't really taken the time to think about one. Thanks for sharing with us at The HomeAcre Hop!

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