A tale of Sherlock “Homes”
Emily Osborne, Green Iowa AmeriCorps Audit Coordinator (2017-18)
“There is nothing like first-hand evidence.”
-Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet
Picture this scene:
There you are nestled in your living room, ready for a well-deserved night off with a mug of fresh pressed apple cider and a classic “rom-com” on the screen. As you finally decompress from a taxing week, you are abruptly interrupted by a large draft coming from the southward wall. You immediately recognize the mysterious draft and the war against your home continues.
To offset the draft, you routinely sprint to the thermostat and turn up the heat. The furnace ignites, minutes go by, and your body returns to homeostasis. Although the warmth is momentarily relieving, you wince at the thought of your monthly energy bill reflecting these periods of preventable reheating. Frustrated and frozen, you succumb to the cold and confess to yourself that stuffing towels along the windowsills and makeshift door sweeps are simply not cutting it financially and sustainably.
For individuals and families who often struggle with a version of this scenario, the Green Iowa AmeriCorps (GIA) program offers trained assistance by the way of home energy assessments to help educate homeowners about their home. Part of our process includes conducting a blower door test to determine the air infiltration rate of the home. This test helps the GIA team and homeowner(s) identify the home’s strengths and weakness, both obvious and subtle.
If the test suggests the home could benefit from low-impact air sealing, the homeowner(s) may request a weatherization. GIA’ mission is to help “make Iowans more energy efficient through low-impact home weatherization, energy education, and community outreach.” This mission does not only address sustainability but also strives to alleviate the household’s financial burden associated with energy expenditure.
In the past five months of my service, I have been fortunate enough to witness the impact of our home energy assessments across Northeast Iowa. Our team has helped individuals along a spectrum of need and from different walks of life that all share one thing common: a curiosity for our organization. My initial hesitation with entering strangers’ homes quickly dissipated when I was greeted with Midwestern hospitality, resolute smiles, and sincere gratitude. While some residents have made stronger impressions, our team’s efforts have ultimately made a difference in several lives. Whether it is relieving the owners of a financial burden, encouraging them towards a more sustainable lifestyle, or witnessing them exhale a sigh of relief, it is rewarding to watch homeowners become empowered by their newfound knowledge and putting their home mysteries to bed.