Tales of Joy & Woe – Customer Stories

Real Customer Stories From Real Customers.

Homeowners are constantly surprised by the results our audits produce; even homeowners that really know their home, and understand home energy issues. Here are some interesting customer stories about real situations, with real people, that we have encountered:

“Man! I Wish I’d Called You First!”

The first winter after purchasing the new home, the wife discovered some very cold spots in the home. A siding person said told them they needed insulated siding, which they purchased. After living through the re-siding of the home, the wife still complained of too many cold spots. A window salesperson said they needed new windows, which they purchased and installed. Almost no change in the cold spots. Now they had spent over $30,000 and still have largely the same problems. They were at their wits end (and saddled with making payments for all the upgrades). Fortunately, they called Energy Audits of Chicagoland. Upon investigation we found that, of the four places that were experiencing cold spots, three were solved by simple air sealing and one solved by opening up the wall to install insulation in a single key location where the original builders had missed it. Total materials and installation cost: $876. Issue solved.

Huddle Together…You Know, So You Don’t Get Lonely

Hailing from Arizona, at first they thought they were just not used to living in a cold environment. But no matter how high they set the thermostat in their newly purchased home, sitting on the couch was still too cold to watch the TV. They talked to the neighbors, who put them in touch with the previous owners who sheepishly admitted they had experienced the same issues. Additionally, that owner had learned that the owner before them had also had issues. This 1920’s home had never had insulation added nor windows replaced. The owners were devastated thinking about the costs of such upgrades. They just couldn’t do it. They would have to move.

Just before deciding to list their home for sale, they called Energy Audits of Chicagoland. Upon investigation, we found that none of the heat registers (blowing hot air) were located on the outside walls. They were all located in the floor by the center of the house. To make matters worse, the return air vents (sucking air back to the furnace) were also on the floor just a foot or two away. Since 1946, when the system was installed, the hot air has only been heating a few square feet of the center of the house before immediately being sucked back to the furnace. The solution? Extend the heat ducts to the outside walls. Because the home had an unfinished basement it was fairly inexpensive to solve. Last we heard, the homeowners are enjoying a comfortable home with lower bills (and saving up for wall insulation and window replacement in the future).

“We often find issues with the location of heat register or returns, but this was one of the most extreme examples we have seen.” – Dan Potter , owner, Energy Audits of Chicagoland

“I’ll Take What’s Behind Box #1″

The guest bedroom was too cold in the winter. It had new windows, the heat seemed adequate, walls and ceiling properly insulated. What could it be? Our air infiltration test indicated a large air leakage from the closet. The homeowner thought it must be a mistake. We started moving boxes, many of which she said had been there since they moved in 7 years ago. Behind one box we discovered a hole which obviously had been cut in order to run some cable lines years ago. The opening went up and into the attic. Hot air had been escaping into the attic for years. The solution? Patch the hole—$85. This solved a leak that had been costing almost a hundred dollars in energy loss every year.


One Call Away From A BIG Mistake

They have bedrooms over an attached garage. They fight over who has to get those bedrooms in the winter; they are mighty cold in the winter. It seemed fairly clear that the insulation between the garage and the bedrooms must be inadequate. In the process of getting bids the homeowner found Energy Audits of Chicagoland. With some fairly intense analysis, we found that large amounts of outside air were leaking into the space of the garage ceiling over the top of the insulation from an adjoining overhang. The solution? Open the ceiling in one small area and block the air passage, then patch and drywall. Cost: $425. Issue solved.


On the hottest days, the owners would take a break from the hot kitchen by sneaking down to their unfinished basement for a few minutes. Despite having no air conditioning registers down there it was always cool. They always thought it was just because it was below grade level. During the audit they discovered unconnected duct work hidden deep up in a dark joist space. The heating guy (back in 1959) had never connected the duct to the kitchen register. It has been spewing cold air into an already cool basement for more than 50 years! Because they have a boiler for heat, there was no heat coming out during the winter, which they surely would have noticed. The solution? Connect the duct. Cost: less than $100, producing a comfortable kitchen and lower cooling bills.

Heater Blowing…Cold Air?!

“We must need new windows,” was the homeowner’s opening remarks in self-diagnosing why their heat vent was blowing cold air. “But they are just SO expensive.” The heat from the ducts indeed measured surprisingly lukewarm. The furnace was located in an unused cubby of their 2nd floor. What they didn’t know is that that room was inadvertently connected to the eaves of the home, and hence to outside air. The cubby would fill with cold air in the winter and since there were several holes in the ductwork from past alterations, it was blowing the cold air throughout the home. The solution? Seal off the area and fix the duct hole. The cost? We never found out what they paid, but it was likely less than 1/10th the price of the new windows they almost bought.

Who Would Have Thought?

The audit may have been, in part, to show to themselves just how well they had fixed up the place. Indeed, the old home now had efficient heating and cooling systems, and a new water heater. It had been retrofitted with lots of good insulation, good windows, and well air sealed. So how come the air infiltration test showed a big leak? We tracked it to the basement, up in the joist space behind a cross brace. It was a hole that led into a window seat that had been originally built into a bay window. This, in turn, led to the tiny “attic” of the bay window which had been ventilated to avoid mold issues. The solution? Patch the air way. The cost? About $100. The savings? About 10% of their heating bill.

“Sorry ma’am, we can’t get there until tomorrow…”   Thank Goodness!

The energy audit really had nothing to do with the renovations planned on the third floor room, or so they thought. It really was a scheduling happenstance that our team arrived before the contractor who would replace the ceiling. The homeowner had certainly noticed the falling ceiling tiles; that’s why he called the contractor. What he had not noticed was the complete lack of insulation in the space above it. Hadn’t it been insulated with the rest of the attic last month? Well no, because there was no entrance to that attic from the main attic (or from any direction, for that matter) and the insulators never noticed they had missed an area. Our air infiltration tests exposed the issue when huge amounts of air came pouring in through the loose ceiling tiles. The solution? Air seal and insulate while the old ceiling is down, and before the new ceiling goes up. The savings versus uninsulated and unsealed, about $160 a year.

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