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.


We looked at 100+ houses and made offers on eight

This post is not out of sequence. The Vacant Properties Program (VPP) requires that the builder buy the house before applying for a VPP renovation loan. SHRA helps by giving some advance guidance on what houses will be eligible. Our preferred house was on the wrong side of an eligiblity line so we kept looking. Six other sellers didn't even respond to our written offers. We gradually learned that the published price in multiple listings had very little relationship to the offer required to make the sale. Jean Ave was listed at a "come-on" price of $29,000, but actually cost us $46,000.

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