Energy Efficiency - Shirley Fenile Home Case Study

The Energy Upgrade California™ Home Upgrade project and associated upgrades have transformed Shirley's vintage 1920s house to the standards of today. To allow for the installation of attic and floor insulation, building codes required replacing the original knob and tube electrical wiring throughout the house with up-to-date wiring and switches. This effort also involved replastering and painting. The wiring change-out is not included in the Energy Upgrade California project cost listed.

Energy-Efficiency Improvements Completed

  1. Whole House Air Sealing
  2. New Sealed, Insulated Ducts and Floor Vents
  3. Attic Insulation
  4. Under the Floor Insulation
  5. New High-efficiency Furnace
  6. Tankless Hybrid Water Heater
  7. Dual-pane, Tinted, Insulated Double-hung Windows with Wood (fir) Interior

Additional Improvements

Additional improvements that enhanced energy efficiency include:

  • ENERGY STAR Refrigerator
  • High-efficiency Clothes Washer
  • High-efficiency Bathroom Fan
  • Programmable Thermostat
  • Water-conserving Landscaping
crawlspace beforeBefore the upgrades were installed, there was no insulation under the floors.

Shirley Fenile was raised in the San Diego North Park community in the 1925-era house she now lives in. She moved back into the family home 13 years ago, after years of living in apartments—and it was quite a change for her.

"Inside my vintage house it was extremely cold in the winter, and I had to wear heavy sweaters most of the time and use extra blankets," Shirley said. In the morning when she woke up, the thermostat often registered 46 degrees. "I endured this for more than a decade, but now I wake up comfortable in the mornings."

One of the biggest problems was the floor furnace, the house's original unit. The pilot light blew out numerous times, and one time Shirley smelled gas throughout the house. Since then, she was concerned for her safety and was reluctant to use the furnace.

crawlspace beforeUnder the house, new ducts, high-efficiency furnace and insulation were installed.

"When I did use the furnace, it would not do the job. It was freezing in all rooms of the house. The bathroom was so cold that I would run a space heater in there before taking a shower," Shirley said.

She also noted that the windows were very drafty and this presented a big problem during the winter. "The kitchen had a louvered window and I could always feel the draft. I had to close off the kitchen doors, the French doors in the study and the rest of the doors in the house to keep the drafts from entering the living room where I spend most of my time." When she went into the kitchen and other rooms, it was really cold and "the back bedroom was like an icebox," she added.

crawlspace beforeAttic insulation up to 13 inches deep was installed.

Shirley says that her recent energy efficiency upgrades have made a tremendous difference. "Now the entire house is comfortable, and the temperature is consistent throughout all the rooms. When it is cold outside I hardly need to turn on the furnace," she said.

Air sealing of the house, the insulation in the attic and the crawlspace under the floors and the new windows were instrumental. The contractor also laid down plastic sheeting on top of the dirt in the crawlspace.

Other key features are new, sealed air ducts and vents and a high-efficiency furnace located under the house. To allow for the installation of attic and floor insulation in the 1920s house, the building codes required replacing the original knob and tube electrical wiring throughout the house with up-to-date wiring and switches. This effort also involved replastering and painting.

crawlspace beforeThe old windows were replaced with new energy efficient windows with wood interior framework.

"I am also very happy with the new windows—no more rattling. And the drafts and the huge amount of heat loss and air leakage have been eliminated," Shirley said. "I am an extremely light sleeper, and I had problems with sleep deprivation from being under the airport flight path, but the new windows and insulation keep the noise out and the house is much quieter."

Shirley is very proud to have an energy efficient home. "My upgraded home serves as an excellent example of how to transform a vintage 1920s house to one that meets the energy standards of today," she added. "Removing the knob and tube wiring and installing the insulation and other energy efficiency upgrades has provided a serious improvement in my quality of life."




No endorsement for any companies or services is intended or implied. Energy Upgrade California™ Home Upgrade provides assistance and incentives for home improvement projects that can reduce energy use and make homes more comfortable. This statewide program is managed locally by utilities and regional energy networks and directed by the California Public Utilities Commission in collaboration with the California Energy Commission. Funding comes from utility customers under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. Incentives are offered on a first-come, first-served basis and are effective until funding is expended or the program is discontinued. Programs may be modified or terminated without prior notice. © 2013 Energy Upgrade California. Trademarks are property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.