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Home Energy Makeover

The Creative Life

The Jimenez family, members of Guadalupe Valley EC

Richard and Nancie Jimenez live in a cozy country home on two acres in Cibolo, northeast of San Antonio, with their teenage sons, Dakota and August. 

Richard is an executive chef whose business caters to stars and crew in the movie industry. Nancie is a professional photographer specializing in portraits and weddings.

An energy audit of the family’s 1,600-square-foot home, built in 1971, indicated inadequate air conditioning and insulation and major heating and cooling loss in the rear porch, which had been converted into a bedroom with 11 windows and no insulation in the attic.

The Jimenezes were already controlling their energy use by taking short showers and running their dishwasher only when full to save on hot water costs. They installed a skylight in the kitchen to cut back on lighting expenses.

But the family’s lack of do-it-yourself know-how and budget constraints were obstacles for making significant energy-efficiency upgrades. The Home Energy Makeover surmounted the obstacles.

The Jimenezes received an extensive tuneup of their fairly new central heating and air-conditioning unit. All the ducts were cleaned and sealed, and a programmable thermostat was installed to further increase the unit’s efficiency. A new Energy Star-rated refrigerator and a deep freezer replaced aging, inefficient appliances. And an ultra-efficient Marathon Rheem water heater replaced one that was more than a decade old.

Workers installed new insulation, and they caulked and sealed numerous air leaks in the walls, floors and ceilings. In the converted bedroom, they installed solar screens to help block the summer sun and placed a new window unit in the room, which was unconnected to the central heating and A/C system.

Energy auditor Brett Dillon estimated that with the improvements, the family could save 11 percent on heating, 50 percent on cooling and 65 percent on water-heating costs.

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