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.


History: Del Paso boomed when mulberrys bloomed.

This August picture looks like we have one big house. Actually it is a small house (on left) the a huge, overgrown mulberry tree that spills out over to the neighbor's yard. Mulberries need trimming to prevent weak branches, prone to breakage. They typically live 50 t0 70 years, and most planted around 50 years ago.

We asked arborists at the Sacramento Tree Foundation why Del Paso has so may of these beautiful, but problem-laden trees. They explained it was a matter to timing. Much of Del Paso was built after World War II, when large subdivisions were catching on. Coincidently, a new type of mulberry that did not produce fruit was developed during the same period. The developers loved it because it produced good shade by growing dense and fast, with no messy dropped fruit. Within ten years the combined problems of huge growth and realtively weak limbs became apparent and it was rarely planted after 1960.

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