Derosset House: Energy Audit

On April 4th we went to Susan Holmes and Greg Maynard’s home on Tennessee Avenue. This building is a very old, beautiful space that they now use as a Bed and Breakfast. The Derosset House has had numerous renovations in the last several years including increased insulation in the walls and double paned windows installed. Due to the high ceilings and large area of the house (approximately 4,000 square feet), we knew the house was going to be less energy efficient.


Here is a ranked list of the different things we saw:


1) Repairing the large hole in the upstairs room off the bedroom. This is a larger problem with rotting boards, etc but sealing up that whole will be HUGE for savings


2) Weatherstripping on front door


3) Replace incandescent to CFLs


living room (3), back bathroom, dining room (could be replaced with LEDs), upstairs back hallway, residence bedroom


4) Weatherstrip door to basement


5) Low-flow sink faucets and shower heads

Locations: back bathroom, bathroom off laundry room, upstairs back hall bathroom (shower too)


6) Seal windows


small leak in largest window office/sunroom (bottom left corner and right side of midline)

Double pane and seal windows in breakfast nook

back bathroom could use double pane windows

laundry room windows need to be sealed


7) Power strip appliances in kitchen


8) Power strip appliances in tv room


9) Plug various small holes:


under sink in laundry room (use clay or caulk)

under sink in laundry room bathroom

hole near lightswitch in castle room

seal holes in dryer pipes

While we could not use our resources to help her fix these problems (Ms. Holmes does not qualify for financial assistance) we presented this list to her in order of what we thought was most important for her to fix to have the greatest impact on her energy use.

Ms. Holmes would also like us to mention that as a Bed and Breakfast on campus, her house is open for rental (you can rent one room, multiple rooms, or the entire house). Please feel free to contact her at (931) 598-0274 or for inquiries.



Update on Week 2 Energy Audit

We have a quick update on Cindy’s Blow In insulation for her attic. Ian was finally able to set up an appointment when we were all available (Cindy, contractor, audit team), but unfortunately, when we showed up for the appointment, Cindy had gone to the doctor. The contractors arrived before we could cancel the appointment, and we could not get into the house to allow them to install the insulation, but we were able to get a price estimate for about $1300 to have the attic blown with R38 insulation. We are still working with Dixon and Daniel to arrange another appointment.


Folks at Home Energy Audit

This week, the energy audit crew visited Sewanee’s own Folks at Home.  Daniel Church led the group, which included Ben, Drake, Ian, Sega, John, Catherine, and myself.  Folks at Home is non-profit organization providing services that allow the elderly to age in the comfort of their own home.  The Folks at Home office is located right beside Hunter Hall.  Upon our arrival, the F@H director, Kathleen O’Donohue, gave us a brief rundown on where our energy efficiency expertise was most needed.  Although a previous audit and some repairs were completed as recently as last year, there are still some areas in dire need of a tune-up.  This is not all surprising, given that the Folks at Home office was constructed in 1866! This makes the Folks at Home a historical landmark as well as the third oldest building on campus, behind only Rebel’s Rest and Dr. Potter’s home.  

We started right away with a door blower test and began caulking the most obvious leaks in windows.  We also installed weathering strips under a door and sealed up a gaping hole under the bathroom sink.  Unfortunately, our team was supply-limited.  We were unable to address other issues simply because we did not have the needed materials.  Hopefully, we will be able to return and finish up the feasible aspects of the job, especially installing more weather strips.  However, some repairs, such as putting in new windows, may be beyond our current capabilities.  Although we did not get to address every possible repair, overall it was a successful audit!

– GabbyImage

Energy audit #3

This week we visited a second house on Gudger Road.  Cindy’s house was just down the street.  The residents were an elderly couple, and the man seemed to be nearing the end of his life.  His wife was still working and also took care of her husband.  She was very open to share her family problems with us, a recurring theme throughout our visits.

The house was in so-so condition, which is not surprising to see for an older couple.  There was nothing horribly wrong.  It was just clear that they were not physically able to repair the house, and may lack money to pay for repairs.  Gutters were falling apart and their garage door had a broken window.  She related that one of her children was too busy to help, and the other one had debilitating health problems.

We set up the blower door and found a few leaks, but overall the house was pretty tight.  John and Elizabeth caulked some things in the bathroom.  I was going to turn their hot water heater down a few degrees and we found they had a new unit with a digital thermostat.  It was quite fancy and easy to adjust.  We replaced some burnt out bulbs   as well as some incandescent bulbs with CFLs.  It was determined that the faucets and shower were flowing nicely.

Ian, Ben, and I helped set up an improvised clothes line in her side yard.  Apparently it was a life long dream of hers to have one, so it was nice to fulfill that.  Ben also fixed the broken window in the garage back door.  This house had 3 refrigerators and 1 large chest freezer, which is the same setup as Cindy’s house!  Kind of strange, but we told her that she could consolidate her goods and unplug her extra refrigerators.  She was worried that the refrigerators would break if unplugged, but we assured her that she would just save energy.  We are getting much quicker at our energy audits and may soon be able to complete two in one day!


Energy Audits – Week 2

    In this week’s edition of Household Energy Audits,  we visited a charming residence and were able to provide helpful improvements to another local homeowner.  Cindy’s home had comfortable rooms for her grandchildren, pleasant furnishings and a spacious back yard.  In contrast to most homeowners, Cindy had already implemented energy-saving measures such as thermostat control, timed showers, and line-dry laundry.  However, she still complained of drafts coming from door frames and window areas, and energy bills that went through the roof.  Using our Blower-Door tester, we were able to pinpoint many of the leaks and seal them with either caulk or expanding foam.  In addition, the larger frame-door gaps in the front and back doors were remedied by installing rubber weather strips.  While the stuffed animals lining the doors were cute, an even cuter presence will be the added warmth her whole family will get from the new door seal!  Cindy mentioned that she consistantly had to cut her hot water with cold, an issue we were able to meet by simple turning her central water heater down by about 10 degrees.  On the issue of water usage, Cindy was already quite adept.  However, we were able to augment her thriftiness by installing low-flow shower heads and sink nozzles.  These provide adequate pressure for functionality and comfort, while noticeably reducing overall water use.

   Since Cindy’s grandchildren are not always there, we suggested that she close heating vents in unused rooms.  This is a simple step that can be done at home, usually even by those physically impaired.  We were able to replace many of the home’s lightbulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL), which provide solid light coverage at a fraction of the energy cost. 

  For the long-term improvement of Cindy’s home, we suggested the installation of blow-in foam insulation in the attic space.  While there was a large amount of family items stored in the attic, Cindy expressed a longstanding desire to have these items removed or placed elsewhere.  Blow-in insulation is perfect for attic space that is already difficult to access (therefore only presenting heat inefficiency), and can drastically reduce monthly energy bills.  By the time we had finished, Cindy was in high spirits, eager to implement more energy-saving tips for her own home, and to spread the good news to her friends in the community.  Another home improved, providing comfort and education to our valued local citizens!

Energy Audits: Week 1


Our first energy audit was a group training session at Daniel Church’s house on January 31st. Daniel and Dixon Myers taught us the basics of energy audits, how to find and fix problems around the house. There is a range of possible fixes to help residents conserve energy and lower energy costs.

This week, on February 14th, we did our first energy audit at cabin house, slightly past Saint Andrews. Mike, the renter of the cabin, was an older man who had one foot amputated about two years ago. He was living on disability income from the government and explained to us that he barely had enough money to pay for groceries. It was interesting to see that despite his extremely low income, Mike had a large flat screen television and computer, along with 4 dogs and 5 cats.

Mike identified some of the places of energy loss in his house, and with the help of the blower door test, we were able to identify more. We were able to fix a hole in a cabinet under the kitchen sink by replacing degraded insulation, both inside and outside (see picture of Ben). We also replaced a panel on the outside of the house to cover the exposed insulation. Then, we added weather stripping to the back door. Before we installed it, day light could be seen through the seal, or lack there of, between the door and the frame, but the weather stripping block the sunlight, and some of the air flow as well (see picture of Ben and Dixon). Two other simple fixes to conserve energy were caulking some of the leaky windows and replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFL’s.

Overall, I think this was a great first energy audit out in the field. Our team worked together well, and I was glad that Dixon and Daniel were pleased with our work. Although the job required some physical labor and getting a little messy, but we, or at least I, enjoyed the companionship of my classmates as well as the satisfaction of making someone else’s life a little better, and helping Sewanee and the surrounding area become a little more sustainable.

Energy Audits: Week 1- Ben and Dog

Energy Audits: Week 1- Ben and Dog

Energy Audits: Week 1- Ben and DIxon

Energy Audits: Week 1- Ben and Dixon

Energy Audits: Week 1- GROUP pic

Energy Audits: Week 1- GROUP pic