Doug and Debbie Anderson had rented their house for eight years before purchasing it in the summer of 2014. An old farmhouse built in 1900, the house was significantly outdated – and the Andersons felt the impacts on their comfort and on their pocketbook.

“It was a typical 1900 house that hadn’t been taken care of,” says Doug. “The windows were ancient and the doors were rotten. The 1920s toilet used a ton of water.”

Gaps in the doors and windows caused certain rooms to be cold, and the lack of insulation meant the floors were always cold. Doug had tried to make the place warmer by stuffing towels around the doors and applying plastic inside the windows. But it wasn’t enough.

Because of the inefficiency of the home’s systems, the Andersons often paid over $500 on energy bills in the winter. For a family of 10 living on a pastor’s salary and a nonprofit salary, seeking ways to keep costs down was worth it. “We looked for anything we could to help it,” Doug says.

When Doug began researching options in low-interest development loans to help pay for improvements, Colorado Springs Housing Authority referred him to the Energy Resource Center (ERC). Doug learned that he could have called on ERC for help even sooner.

“We were waiting until we owned the property. I didn’t know then that we could get ERC’s free services as renters,” he says.

After assessing the home for needed upgrades, ERC replaced the doors; applied weather stripping around doors and windows; installed insulation in the walls, attic and basement; built a safety wall between the furnace and a bedroom; mounted carbon monoxide detectors and new light bulbs; and cleaned the furnace to ensure it was operating correctly. ERC also installed a low-flow toilet and showerhead – which will help the Andersons save a great deal of water.

The work is making a difference. In January, the Andersons’ energy bill was $340, and Doug expects it to decrease even more.

“We can run the heat so much lower and still be comfortable. We’re no longer walking into cold spots that shouldn’t be there. It has helped tremendously.” He also notes that the insulation keeps the place so much quieter. “With eight kids, I didn’t know our house could be quiet,” he chuckles, adding, “I’m not complaining.”

Doug confides that the fact that ERC’s services were free made the whole project possible. “We couldn’t have done this otherwise.”

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