For over 40 years, the state’s Weatherization Assistance Program has served as a lifeline to tens of thousands of Minnesotans who simply can’t afford to make significant home energy improvements. The program serves financially vulnerable residents like Koelln who struggle with high energy bills. It gives priority to the elderly, disabled, families with children, and those with the highest energy bills. Koelln, living in a farmhouse built in 1900, was a perfect candidate for WAP. He had been receiving energy assistance for five years and was on the WAP waiting list before getting help.
Koelln’s weatherization work included a thorough energy audit to determine the cost-effective measures needed for his home. WCMCA’s Gene Wyttenback performed the audit and diagnosed a number of energy shortcomings: high energy bills, lots of air leaks, poor insulation, an aging furnace, and inefficient appliances. He authorized a wide range of services, repairs, and replacements, including:
- Attic air sealing and dense pack cellulose insulation
- Air sealing throughout the house
- A new fuel oil furnace
- Sealing of duct work
- Spray foam insulation to the rim joists
- Weather-stripping doors and windows
- A new cellar door
- A bathroom fan
- Re-venting the clothes dryer
- A new whole house fan for ventilation
- Replacing old incandescent bulbs with LEDs
- New carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and smoke alarms
In addition to the weatherization work, Koelln qualified through his electric utility—the Runestone Electric Association—to receive several new high-efficiency appliances, including a new electric water heater, refrigerator, and clothes washer. The appliances were provided as part of utility’s Conservation Improvement Program.
All the improvements and new equipment combined to make for a tighter, far more energy-efficient home, said Wyttenback. “We achieved a 25% reduction in air infiltration,” said Wyttenback. “Also, we replaced an aging 77% efficient fuel oil furnace with an 85% efficient new one, so that made a big difference.”
Koelln agreed. Before the new furnace and fixes, he was filling his fuel oil tank once a month. During the past winter, he filled it only once every two months.