Energy-Efficient Demonstration House in Del Paso

Stories of energy-efficient renovations often feature beautiful high-end villas. This is a blog for the rest of us. This is a story of a small, older home, where we used technology to address a range of energy use problems.

Like most houses in historic Del Paso, it was built in the fifties in a bungalow style, has alley access to a large back yard, great soil, and good water. The house was built with 920 square feet of living space, two bedrooms, one bath and a small garage. Unknown to the planning department, some time in the seventies, the garage morphed into a third bedroom. The foreclosed and vacant house was watched over by friendly neighbors and there was no vandalism. We bought it for $46,000.

We received a rehabilitation loan from the Sacramento Housing and Rehabilitation (SHRA) under their Vacant Properties Program and started renovation. The Sacramento Municipal Utilities District (SMUD) helped us fund some new energy saving innovations. We promised in return that we would demonstrate the innovations to the public. Monitoring equipment will soon be installed by SMUD, which will allow them track energy usage in various systems in the house for approximately two years. The monitoring will be done without intruding on the people who eventually buy and live in the house.


Signing up for the Vacant Properties Program

Out project started this summer as a casual conversation about the sorry state of the job market. Jim Murray-Clark, is a well-known General Contractor and our fearless leader; Bruce Solorzano, a Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor, and Jim Hicks, who is skilled in just about everything, meant all needed skills were covered in a three-person crew. Family members completed the team, providing a little capital and unimpaired credit ratings.

We had already decided to buy and rehabilitate an inexpensive house when we heard that the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) was starting a program to rescue and renovate bank-owned vacant properties. A lot of paper work later we joined with SHRA and were eligible to start our first project.
The program description can be found on Navigate though Neighborhood Stabilization Program (on right) to the Vacant Properties Program (on left).

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