When Crystal Blair became a first-time homeowner in August 2020, she thought the funds planned through her rehab loan would be enough to fix the house up and ensure a comfortable, healthy haven for her and her family. But after the home inspection, she discovered the house’s good looks were only skin deep. Before Blair even closed, she realized she needed help from a knowledgeable service that had her interests in mind. That’s why she reached out to NHS of New Haven and registered for our I Heart My Home CT program.
Unfinished ductwork, insulation and other problems were discovered that she hadn’t expected and had not been included in her rehab loan. “It seemed like it wasn’t a lot of work,” Blair remembered about her house hunt. She liked how the house looked and that it had what she wanted – not too big, not too small and in a good area off of Main Street. What she couldn’t see were the problems.
With her I Heart My Home energy coach, Mike Uhl, Blair no longer had to struggle with contractor issues, her HVAC being shut down by an inspector or the money pit of an electric system that nobody wanted to work on. “One electrician would disconnect everything,” Blair said, “they had to cut into walls that couldn’t be patched.” Uhl was with her every step of the way and counseled that if that was the case, it was better to change out the wall and insulate while it was open.
Once she received her home energy assessment through the utility-run Home Energy Solutions – Income Eligible (HES-IE), in December of 2020, they got to work taking the new Blair residence completely off of fossil fuels. Her new mechanical system relies on electric heat pumps. One heats water for domestic use and dehumidifies the basement. Another replaced the furnace and adds central cooling.
I Heart My Home helped make sure Blair qualified for comprehensive incentives so that her upgrades were paid – in full – through the HES-IE program. She’s one of the first HES-IE customers in Eversource territory to be included in their Heat Pump Pilot program. “HVAC was the most exciting part,” Blair explained, considering the installation didn’t require any out-of-pocket payment. “Even the guy installing it was surprised!”
With her new rooftop solar system connected in February, she now generates all the electric power she needs to run her house, and her monthly electric bill has dropped from $400 to $9. Blair is also in line to be one of the first people to be part of a solar storage program, and soon the battery storage will be able to run important household systems even if there is a power outage. And if the electric grid is overloaded by something like a heatwave, her solar storage system will feed into the grid and increase the resilience of the community – while she is paid for her support in the process.
“Mike has been extremely helpful,” Blair said. “He’s still working with people to wrap everything up,” she added, expressing her appreciation for the diligent work of her energy coach and the I Heart My Home CT program.