Braving the Winter: More on Home Comfort with Kellye Markowski of Energy Smart Homes

Today we’re gabbing with Kellye Markowski of Energy Smart Homes, an energy auditing and consulting company. She focuses on home comfort by helping homeowners reduce their energy consumption and costs. By working with a company like Energy Smart Homes, homeowners are able to improve the home’s energy efficiency, whether it is a new construction or remodel. And that puts more dollars in your wallet, not just today but for all of the years you own the home. That makes your home and life comfortable in more ways than one!

Don’t Assume Your Home Is Energy Efficient

One of the biggest issues Kellye sees in her work is the assumption that the house was built with energy efficiency in mind. Sometimes, yes, but sometimes, no. That’s why the best time to look at an energy audit is before you start a build or even a remodel. But if you’re feeling a difference in temperature in different parts of your home, or your energy bills seem high, it might be a good time to look into the issue. Usually, if there are challenges with home comfort, one of the first areas to look is the thermal envelope. This is how a home stays warm in winter and cooler in summer, how air is exchanged through walls, floors, and ceilings. While some homes have issues with the thermal envelope, they can often be addressed inexpensively. The key is knowing that the problem is there. And, of course, it’s easier to rectify before a build or remodel instead of tackling it after the fact.

Home Comfort Includes Health and Safety

During a home audit, not just home comfort is addressed. We spend a lot of time in our homes, and the audit also involves health and safety. It’s all about considering the holistic health of your home. Air quality in a home can contribute to many health issues, and a leaky house isn’t as safe as a tight home. The way the home was constructed can contribute to family members suffering from asthma and allergies. But their health might improve when air tightness and ventilation are addressed.

A Small Investment Can Have a Huge Payout

While you do have to pay an energy auditor to come and inspect your home, most homeowners feel that the report they receive gives them a huge return on investment. The number one reason homeowners schedule an energy audit is because their bills are high and their home comfort is low. An energy audit is a day-long process that addresses various aspects of the home and provides homeowners with a number of options to increase their home comfort. Working with someone like Kellye results in suggestions that are attached to various price points and can result in numerous improvements. “Weatherization isn’t glamourous, but it can really make a difference in the comfort of your home.”

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Listen to the podcast or read the transcript below.


Welcome to the Green Gab. This is Marla, the Green Home coach, and I don’t know about you today, but it is a big day for comfort. We got snow today and ice, and I am just all cozied up in my house. We have the fireplace going today and lots of hot tea and warm food, so I hope wherever you are is not as cold and snowy as here, but you know, it is wintertime, so that’s okay.

                                I wanted to talk with you real quick about comfort. It is something that is so important to all of us. Matter of fact, I even wrote in my book that comfort may be the only thing that all humans are looking for in a home, and like many things in life, comfort means something different to each of us. However, I do think our homes being comfortable does mean something kind of similar to most of us. I think that’s a place that’s warm in the winter, cool in the summers or in the hotter days. If you’re in another hemisphere, [inaudible] those please, and then it’s a place that doesn’t have a lot of drafts, a place that doesn’t have a lot of extra humidity and that makes our bodies and our morale feel good.

                                I don’t know about you, but getting that right in my home sometimes can be a little tricky. Here’s some things that you can do in your home that can improve this. You don’t have to have a brand new home or be remodeling your home in order to take advantage of a lot of these hands-on tips and tricks, but it really kind of starts with just kind of the basics honestly. That’s tightening up your home. Think about it. If you put on the best down coat you’ve owned but you didn’t zip it up. It’s not going to keep you very warm because the air is going to leak in through the open zipper. Well, home can be just like that. Anywhere there are cracks or gaps or holes between the inside and the outside of the home are going to bring cold air in on winter, and that’s when we notice it the most. It’s also going to be a source of leaking that cold air out in the summer, so you’re also going to be paying to air condition the outside too.

                                Winter is when we really feel it the most, and that’s when we feel a lot of the drafts and, yeah, the cold just gets in your bones more. This is where weatherization … I know that’s such a kind of techie sounding thing, but weatherization is basically just tightening up your home, and starting with that alone, a tube of caulk and a can of the right foam can be your best friend in filling in those holes because if there’s a lot of holes in your home, they add up, and that can be the equivalent to leaving a window open or a door open. We all know how cold that can get.

                                The other thing I really found is there’s all kinds of kind of gadgets, I guess for lack of a better term, or items. I remember growing up that my grandmother always had what I call the draft doggy, but it was a long thin roll that we could put at the bottom of the door to block the draft from coming in under the door. If you haven’t or for some reason cannot improve the weatherstripping or that sweep on the bottom of an exterior door, at least putting one of these draft doggies or a draft roll in. You can also put them at the sill of the window if you have a leaky window sill that you cannot seal or can’t get to. These can at least improve it.

                                Other trick I found that I used in my condo back in Saint Louis was the shrink, the heat shrink window films. I did not want to spend the money on storm windows, which are the best option. If you don’t want to replace your windows, just install storm windows and good window coverings, but in addition to that, I did the shrink film that you apply it, and then you shrink it with a hair dryer, and it really improved the comfort level in that condo. I had old, leaky windows. We’d caulked but that wasn’t enough. There was a lot of cold just coming in through the windows themselves. The panes weren’t well sealed, and they were older windows. A lot of times, you just get air drafts off the cold difference if you have a lot of glass in a room, so sometimes, just blocking that cold window glass because the glass is going to get colder than the wall, just blocking that can really help to block the drafts.

                                In addition to caulk and seal, air seal it up, you can use window coverings, window film, draft rolls or draft doggies as I like to call them, and then if you get a chance to get a little bit more into it, get yourself some weatherization stripping and seal up around the openings of windows and doors. Any place you can see daylight is air definitely coming in. Those are quick five tips to help you warm it up this winter and stay comfortable in your home. If you want to learn more about how to really dig in there and find some energy savings and comfort improvements for your home, listen onto the home detective episode with Kellye Markowski. She’s worked in literally over 1,000 homes and has found all kinds of ways to improve homes, be they new, be they old. Enjoy.

Marla Esser:                       Welcome to the Green Gab, Marla Esser here, the Green Home Coach, together with Tony Pratte of the sound room.

Tony Pratte:                       Hi, Marla.

Marla Esser:                       Good morning.

Tony Pratte:                       Good morning.

Marla Esser:                       I know we’re usually here in the afternoon.

Tony Pratte:                       Yeah. We usually have lunch before we do this.

Marla Esser:                       I know. I miss that today.

Tony Pratte:                       It’s like I feel like we’re just not in our normal rhythm, you know.

Marla Esser:                       I know. That’s kind of our zen time, but I’m really appreciative that I really could get our extras recorded now, so we can have some space to let life happen. That’s the great thing about recording.

Tony Pratte:                       It’s a good thing Sam’s here, otherwise, I’d really be thrown off.

Marla Esser:                       You know what? I’d like to publicly recognize Sam. Kudos to Sam here at Shock City Studios where we record our podcast. Sam, you’re amazing.

Sam:                                      Thank you.

Tony Pratte:                       Part of the team.

Marla Esser:                       Part of the team. Make this podcast happen, so thank you, man. Wouldn’t be here without you.

Sam:                                      You’re welcome.

Marla Esser:                       Hey.

Tony Pratte:                       Just so you know, we are getting this in so you could have your little vacation.

Marla Esser:                       Yeah.

Tony Pratte:                       Don’t worry, you’re welcome.

Marla Esser:                       We’ve got in the studio today, Kellye Markowski, with Energy Smart Homes. I’ve known Kellye for a while. I don’t know how long. I hate to admit how long I know anybody anymore.

Kellye M.:                            Good morning, Marla.

Marla Esser:                       I’m so glad we’ve reconnected over the past few months, the cycle of [inaudible], right?

Kellye M.:                            Absolutely. I’m glad our paths have crossed again.

Marla Esser:                       I know.

Kellye M.:                            And here we are working together again, so it’s great.

Marla Esser:                       I know. I love it. I love it. I love it. So, talk about what you do at Energy Smart Homes, and I love how you got here, so share that too please.

Kellye M.:                            It’s interesting. Most folks find my background surprising. So, currently, Energy Smart Homes is a residential energy auditing and commercial energy auditing consulting business, also providing project consulting. My goal is to …

                                                I work independently. I’m not working with an HVAC company or an insulating company, so I’m not promoting a specific product when I walk into a home. It’s an independent unbiased look, and my goal is to help the customer, help the customer reduce their energy, reduce their cost, and know the best course of action for their house.

Tony Pratte:                       Now, when you say customer, you’re really referring to the homeowner.

Kellye M.:                            Right, the homeowner or even the-

Tony Pratte:                       The true end user.

Marla Esser:                       Or a business owner.

Kellye M.:                            Or a business owner, right.

Tony Pratte:                       Okay.

Kellye M.:                            And I feel very passionate about that whole process because I think there is … While we have an … We’re on information overload these days.

Marla Esser:                       Yeah.

Kellye M.:                            And folks try to take a stab at doing the right thing for their property and they most often make mistakes. They put things out of order. They choose the wrong course of action and it costs them money.

Marla Esser:                       Right, they have to redo it.

Kellye M.:                            That’s right, they end up having to redo it. I have a customer right now who-

Marla Esser:                       Been there, done that.

Kellye M.:                            Who brought me in because they have done a remodel on the second floor and it is 20 degrees hotter on a day like today, their air conditioner never shuts off, and they made some mistakes about their HVAC choice, but they also have a number of issues with the thermal boundary of the property that were not addressed by the traditional contractor, right? The traditional contractor, he did his job. He did what he was trained to do, but he doesn’t have that building science background, and doesn’t have that knowledge, that energy efficiency construction expertise. That’s where I come in.

Marla Esser:                       Okay, so why does that matter?

Kellye M.:                            Because now they’re backtracking, they’re going back and looking at this building going, “Well, I’m 20 degrees hotter upstairs. My air conditioner never shuts off. I’m uncomfortable. We’ve had this guy back out trying to fix the problem. He’s been unable to.”

Marla Esser:                       He doesn’t know what he’s fixing.

Kellye M.:                            He doesn’t know what he’s fixing. He doesn’t know what to look for or how to fix it.

Marla Esser:                       So, key element here that I want to make a point with our listeners, building a building is oftentimes about getting a structure up that shields you from the elements, but necessarily that it’s optimized to have you have a comfortable experience in your home.

Kellye M.:                            Right.

Marla Esser:                       An energy professional can do that, is that correct?

Kellye M.:                            That is absolutely correct. We’re going to-

Marla Esser:                       So comfort, not so much even saving money. Comfort is driving a lot of this, isn’t it?

Kellye M.:                            Oh, absolutely, but also if you have an extreme comfort issue, you also are losing a lot of dollars out the window.

Marla Esser:                       Well, yeah, but if you’re miserable … I mean, then you’re miserable twice, right?

Tony Pratte:                       Absolutely.

Kellye M.:                            That’s right.

Marla Esser:                       You’re miserable in your pocket but again in your house.

Kellye M.:                            Here’s what I like to tell folks. Energy efficiency in a home, whether it’s a new construction or a rehab or a remodel or whatever, or just addressing air sealing and insulating issues in the home to improve the thermal boundary, when you do that, and you put those dollars in your wallet from the energy savings, that’s not just today or this month. That is for all the years you own that home.

Marla Esser:                       So it’s making an investment that’s going to pay you back.

Kellye M.:                            Absolutely.

Tony Pratte:                       That’s something we’ve been talking about in multiple podcasts about the whole even if it’s 5% more on the build cost, what the payback is over time far outweighs that upfront investment.

Marla Esser:                       It’s like the operation and gas cost for your car.

Tony Pratte:                       Yeah.

Kellye M.:                            Right.

Marla Esser:                       It’s not just how much you pay for the car. It’s how much it cost you over the next five years. Yeah.

Tony Pratte:                       To operate the car.

Kellye M.:                            Folks are worried about the price they’re paying for a gallon of gas, but think of your home that same way.

Marla Esser:                       Yeah.

Tony Pratte:                       Yeah.

Kellye M.:                            We tend to think about all of the sexy pretty things that we want to put in our house, right?

Marla Esser:                       You want the sports car mentality, right?

Kellye M.:                            Yeah, and so it’s not glamorous to think about the structure of the house, and we assume when we buy a house, especially in modern day, that it’s been built to a certain standard that is going to be-

Marla Esser:                       You just hit the nail on the head there, we assume.

Tony Pratte:                       Right.

Marla Esser:                       We assume, just like we assume with products that we’re being given something that’s safe, healthy, comfortable, et cetera, whatever the benefit is, and it ain’t always the case, folks, right?

Tony Pratte:                       Well, the homeowner will make the assumption there’s insulation in the house. There’s insulation in the house, but what level of insulation?

Kellye M.:                            Well, and also mistakes are made. Let me backtrack a little bit and redirect and talk about where it came from and how I got to this place in this industry. So, I have an education background, a degree to teach, and right out of college, I went to work for an insurance company in which I was a construction estimator and large loss handler, so fires, floods, tornadoes, et cetera. Then after doing that for a few years, I went to the teaching industry. I taught for 18 years, 13 years at one school.

Marla Esser:                       Didn’t you teach art?

Kellye M.:                            I taught art.

Marla Esser:                       That’s what I thought.

Kellye M.:                            People think, “Well, how do these industries connect?” I’ve always had a passion for conserving and energy efficiency and that sort of thing, and I knew from my construction background as an insurance suggester, that I had the tools to look at a house and understand the construction, and I have the ability to teach and educate, and that’s the big piece of what I do.

Marla Esser:                       And you have the creativity as an art teacher.

Kellye M.:                            Which is problem solving.

Marla Esser:                       Oh my gosh, perfect. Yeah.

Kellye M.:                            All this problem solving.

Marla Esser:                       I hadn’t seen that all, that’s perfect. Yeah, nice.

Kellye M.:                            So, when I decided to be in business for myself and did a little research, I put all the pieces of the puzzle together and said, “Hey, the piece that is missing is understanding the energy efficiency construction aspect of things.” So, I went back to school and became certified as a Building Analyst, Shell/Envelope Professional, and so I’m a building science expert.

Marla Esser:                       Wait, wait, so Shell/Envelope Professional means that your expertise is in the building envelope, the walls, the roof, the basement, the slab, whatever protects the people from the outside.

Kellye M.:                            Yes, that is absolutely correct.

Marla Esser:                       Okay.

Kellye M.:                            So, the expertise that I have is top to bottom and inside and out, not only the construction, but a homeowner habit.

Marla Esser:                       Major systems.

Kellye M.:                            The appliances they have in the building, the HVAC system, the ductwork, everything about that structure and who resides in it and what happens in that building, the way the building performs, the way the people behave in the structure.

Marla Esser:                       So, you’re the technical side to what I’m educating and inspiring people to do with Green Home Coach.

Kellye M.:                            Absolutely.

Marla Esser:                       Yeah.

Kellye M.:                            Yeah. Being an independent energy auditor and I am one of the few or maybe only one in all of St. Louis, my goal is to help customers reduce their energy bill, put dollars in their pocket, educate them, help them understand the right choices to make for their house.

Marla Esser:                       Okay. Hold that thought because we’re coming back to that one.

Kellye M.:                            Okay.

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Marla Esser:                       Gab and the green today. I keep sticking to that phrase. Sorry, Tony.

Tony Pratte:                       You really are not Irish.

Marla Esser:                       I know I’m not. Kellye Markowski is not either though.

Tony Pratte:                       Good thing I’m in here. I’m allowed to say that, you’re not.

Marla Esser:                       I know, I know. So Kellye, you were talking, when we took a break, about the assumptions that homeowners make that their houses are built to a certain standard.

Kellye M.:                            Yeah.

Marla Esser:                       I run into this a lot too, so I really … Let’s dig into that one.

Kellye M.:                            Yeah. Through the work that I’ve done over the last six years that I’ve been in business, I’ve been in well over 1,500 homes because I have monitored-

Marla Esser:                       1,500?

Kellye M.:                            Absolutely.

Marla Esser:                       Oh my gosh.

Kellye M.:                            Actually it’s probably more than like 2,000.

Marla Esser:                       Dang.

Kellye M.:                            That is because I’ve worked a couple of different programs. I monitored the Weatherization Program, I did some work for Ameren, walked through energy audits and energy analysis, so four homes a day, five days a week, for four years. I mean, I’ve really seen a lot of structures and a lot of problems. For example, in a brand new home out in Waynesville, and I say new, maybe four years old, five years old, went up and inspected the attic. There was an entire bedroom that had no insulation over the bedroom.

Marla Esser:                       Oh no.

Tony Pratte:                       Oh wow.

Marla Esser:                       Oh wow.

Kellye M.:                            Another home that I picked up in the attic when I pushed away some insulation, this man had been complaining that right next to where this attic access was that there was a hot spot and a cold spot, depending on the season. He was baffled why do I have high energy bills and why do I have this problem?

                                                I, just by happenstance, pushed away some insulation and lo and behold, there was about a two and a half to three foot square hole that went all the way down through the wall, all the way to the basement. That was because the builder at the last minute changed from a gas furnace to an electric furnace so it longer needed a vent space, and they didn’t cap the hole. They blew a little bit of fiber glass insulation over this, which [crosstalk] into the hole.

Tony Pratte:                       Called it a day.

Marla Esser:                       Wow.

Kellye M.:                            And people think that insulation, and even some contractors still think that insulation is going to block air flow, which it does not.

Marla Esser:                       No, it just filters it.

Kellye M.:                            So, it just really was a big hole from the outside into this house.

Marla Esser:                       How do you help homeowners solve these kind of things?

Kellye M.:                            Hey, you know, this is a no-brainer, but you could take a piece of foam board, cut it three by three and cap the hole.

Tony Pratte:                       Yeah.

Kellye M.:                            You could pay a contractor to do it and it’s a relatively easy repair, right?

Marla Esser:                       So, do you do the work or do you help them find someone to do the work, or how do you …

Kellye M.:                            No, I help them, you know-

Tony Pratte:                       You analyze the problem.

Kellye M.:                            Yeah, I analyze the problem.

Marla Esser:                       You give them the recommendation, right?

Kellye M.:                            I have worked with folks to tell them how to do repairs. I’ve worked with their contractors to tell them how to do the repairs. I put their ducks in a row, “Hey, this hole is a bigger problem than replacing all those windows that are double pain.”

Marla Esser:                       And it’s going to cost you a fraction, and it’s going to solve your problem better.

Kellye M.:                            A fraction of the cost, absolutely.

Marla Esser:                       Do you work with remodelers and contractors to help them understand when they need to bring you in?

Kellye M.:                            Absolutely, absolutely.

Marla Esser:                       How do you do that?

Kellye M.:                            So, again, when folks call me and say … I have a couple of calls right now where folks are getting ready to do a remodel project. They’ve heard about this energy audit thing and hey, maybe I should check into this. My job is to educate them, “Hey. Perfect, folks. This is exactly when you should bring in and have an energy assessment is prior to doing the work. It is far cheaper, far less aggravation, far better course of action to have that energy audit of your home prior to starting anything.

Marla Esser:                       So, it’s back to what we’ve been talking in some of others, it’s having the priorities and the plan, and then working it.

Kellye M.:                            Absolutely, because-

Marla Esser:                       If you have no plan, then you’re just winging it.

Kellye M.:                            It’s a sad story to look at a homeowner and say, “Well, you already did the remodel, you’re having this problem.”

Marla Esser:                       It’s not going to work.

Kellye M.:                            You’ve spent all these thousands of dollars and guess what? You’re going to have to spend a little more now because we’re going to have to backtrack to fix this problem, and at the end of the day it’s going to cost you a little bit more.

Marla Esser:                       But it’ll be fixed.

Kellye M.:                            Yes, it’s still to your benefit to do it.

Marla Esser:                       Yeah.

Kellye M.:                            But we could have addressed this ahead of time. By the way, I also have the horror story of, I mean, people don’t even think like when they’re replacing the sighting in the windows. That is a perfect time. If we’re going to replace sighting, let’s address the thermal envelope, right? How leaky is this house?

Marla Esser:                       Okay, what do you mean by thermal envelope? Just explain it in a layperson.

Kellye M.:                            You think of your house as a box that surrounds you and protects you, floors, ceiling, walls.

Marla Esser:                       Right.

Kellye M.:                            That’s the thermal envelope, and that thermal envelope-

Marla Esser:                       So your wall assembly, because there’s multiple things in a wall. It’s not just two by fours and drywall [inaudible].

Kellye M.:                            Right. I mean, the traditionally built home is sticks and insulation, but they don’t seal the holes and they don’t … Insulation is not the best choice usually and can have gaps and-

Tony Pratte:                       Don’t cap the joints.

Kellye M.:                            Right, that’s right. In my own home, I use my home as a test house.

Marla Esser:                       Yep, I get you.

Kellye M.:                            When I became an auditor, I audited my home. I did the blower door test, which determines how leaky it is. I used the IR camera, I found out where the insulation is lacking.

Marla Esser:                       What’s an IR camera?

Kellye M.:                            IR camera sees heat differences.

Marla Esser:                       Oh, the thermal camera.

Kellye M.:                            Thermal camera.

Marla Esser:                       Okay, cool. Those are fine.

Kellye M.:                            It’s high quality infrared IR camera, thermal camera, same thing.

Marla Esser:                       To show you the hot and the cold spots in your house, right?

Kellye M.:                            Right, and so you can see air movement, temperature differences of the air movement, you can also see lack of insulation or insulation that’s fallen away.

Marla Esser:                       So, it’s like magic eyes to look inside the walls, right?

Kellye M.:                            It’s like Ghostbusters.

Marla Esser:                       I like that.

Kellye M.:                            But you can be surprised at what you find. People that have cathedral ceilings often have problems. People that have story and a half, oh, those can be a nightmare of a problem, cost you lots of dollars and comfort issues. These things can be repaired relatively cheaply in the grand scheme of things, right, and made so much better.

Marla Esser:                       I think most people think kind of the head in the sand attitude, what I don’t know won’t hurt me.

Kellye M.:                            Right.

Marla Esser:                       If I can make one point from what I’m hearing from you, that’s not the case folks. These are addressable issues. They’re not that hard to address, but if you have an issue, you need to address it because you’re never going to solve it just talking about it.

Kellye M.:                            Well, if-

Tony Pratte:                       They’re even easier to address, but they’re even easier to address right prior to doing the remodel, or prior to doing the construction.

Marla Esser:                       Absolutely. That’s the time to do it.

Kellye M.:                            Absolutely, instead of going back and trying to fix the problem on the backend because then you’re kind of retracing your steps, right?

Marla Esser:                       But it can be done if you need to.

Kellye M.:                            Yeah, absolutely.

Marla Esser:                       Not the best option, I agree.

Kellye M.:                            Yeah, absolutely.

Marla Esser:                       Okay, so what’s another horror story? You got some good stories.

Kellye M.:                            Yeah. So, I mean, this house that I’m working on now, like I said, 20 degree difference upstairs.

Marla Esser:                       That’s amazing.

Kellye M.:                            And air conditioner never shut off the entire … By the way when I do a full-

Tony Pratte:                       It’s not sized right.

Kellye M.:                            Yeah. When I do a full energy audit, I’m there all day.

Marla Esser:                       Wow.

Kellye M.:                            It’s not a quick process. It’s an investigation.

Marla Esser:                       It’s very thorough.

Tony Pratte:                       Not there 10 minutes and a checklist.

Kellye M.:                            Right.

Marla Esser:                       You’re the home detector, huh?

Kellye M.:                            Here’s one. In this remodel, they sold them an electric furnace and put the ductwork in the attic. Oh, boy, bad choice, right? But if I had been there at the onset, I would have said, “Hey, not the best option here, folks. Let’s try to solve this problem this way instead. Here are these other options.”

Marla Esser:                       Got it. How do you fix it now that it’s up there in the attic?

Kellye M.:                            Well, we’re going to need to go back and do some air sealing of that ductwork.

Marla Esser:                       And then do you insulate it?

Kellye M.:                            And some additional insulation of that ductwork. Well, by the way, there are always multiple ways to solve a problem. That’s one approach.

Marla Esser:                       Yeah, cool.

Kellye M.:                            That’s one approach.

Marla Esser:                       Okay.

Kellye M.:                            Another approach might be to film the underside of the roof Ducane.

Marla Esser:                       Oh, so they’re doing-

Kellye M.:                            It can encapsulate the attic.

Marla Esser:                       [crosstalk] the space. Yeah, okay.

Kellye M.:                            But there’s trade-offs in everything and cost issues to evaluate. That’s where I come in. Hey, this repair is going to cost you more, but this is the benefit. This repair is going to cost you less, but this is the benefit. So, I’m your consultant when I’m in.

Marla Esser:                       I love the fact though that you come in and help people weigh the pros and cons and I’m going to tell you haven’t talked to a lot of energy professionals that quite approach it like you do. Everybody that I’ve talked to has amazing experience, but I love the way you come at it, and I’m being very particular here, but I like the way you come at it from the benefit side.

Kellye M.:                            Yeah.

Tony Pratte:                       There’s no agenda either.

Kellye M.:                            Yeah.

Tony Pratte:                       You’re not pushing a particular product. That’s the nice thing about it.

Kellye M.:                            My only agenda is to help folks.

Tony Pratte:                       Right.

Marla Esser:                       Okay, that’s a great place to take a break.

Kellye M.:                            Like I wish somebody would help me.

Marla Esser:                       There you go. There you go. We’ll be right back.

Marla Esser:                       Okay, so we’re here today with Kellye talking about all kinds of ways to solve issues at home and I love it, have a solution for the things that are plaguing you in your home.

Tony Pratte:                       We’re on a certain topic here, we’re on energy efficiency.

Marla Esser:                       I know, but how many of the problems at home revolve around energy efficiency and comfort?

Tony Pratte:                       Some do, some others don’t.

Marla Esser:                       A lot, but yeah, I mean, or holes in the wall might lead to moisture. There’s a lot of things that can be found with an energy audit that may be contributing to your house not taking care of it. What was it we were talking about the promise of your house, and this is a way to have your house fulfill its promises to take care of its residents, right?

Kellye M.:                            Right.

Marla Esser:                       You want the residents to be safe and comfortable and healthy and you want the structure to promote that kind of an environment and then addressing the issues that you find in the house is one way to do that.

Kellye M.:                            Right. You bring up another really extremely important issue and that’s health and safety, which an audit also involves.

Marla Esser:                       Yeah.

Kellye M.:                            It’s a whole house approach.

Marla Esser:                       Just like we have holistic health for our bodies, you can help people have holistic health for their homes.

Kellye M.:                            Absolutely. I think women are ultimately concerned with health and safety of their families.

Marla Esser:                       Yeah, I think everybody is, but man, women do seem to be really on target with that, I agree. We have a rising epidemic of asthma in this country and in large part, they attribute that to microbial growth mold and things in a home.

Kellye M.:                            Air quality.

Marla Esser:                       Yeah.

Kellye M.:                            You can have spaces and homes that are not properly ventilated. You can have a leaky house and have a room like a bathroom or a basement that’s not properly ventilated and you have microbial growth or whatever. I think I relate to, being a woman, I relate to women and what they want for their families and their homes is the bottom line.

Marla Esser:                       Do you specifically find yourself working a lot of times with the women in a household?

Kellye M.:                            Absolutely. Absolutely. I have women that will do the legwork and call around about energy audits.

Marla Esser:                       Nice.

Kellye M.:                            And women that choose me because I’m a woman, men that choose me because I’m a woman, and people that choose me because I’m easy to talk to, I’m clear, I’m direct to the point. When I do a report on an energy audit, I say to folks, “Here, I’m giving you the report. I want you to take time to read over this, and then we’re going to have a conversation and clarify anything that you don’t understand or need direction on.” Folks come back to me 99% of the time and they’re like well, it’s all pretty clear.

Marla Esser:                       Good.

Kellye M.:                            So, I pride myself on that, being able to educate people and relate to people in ways that they can understand.

Marla Esser:                       You have to converse with them if that’s going to happen, you’re right.

Kellye M.:                            Yeah.

Tony Pratte:                       Least common denominator is like what I like to say.

Kellye M.:                            It’s a technical field.

Marla Esser:                       It is, and I think that scares a lot of people.

Kellye M.:                            That’s right. I think I have a knack for explaining things in a way to folks that they can really grasp and understand and know what to do next to help their feelings.

Marla Esser:                       One of our goals with Green Gab is to really showcase two women and men, but women in particular because so many women are the caretakers of their home that there’s a vast sea or resources available to you to improve your home and to make your home the kind of place you want it to be so that it not only looks good, but it performs well.

                                                Because a house, if it’s going to fulfill its promise of taking care of us, the people that live there, it needs to do that. It has to not just look good. It has to also perform and be long lasting and make your comfortable and all the things that we’re talking about.

Kellye M.:                            Right. One of the things that when folks they ask me about energy audits and what they entail. I do a survey of various things in their home, how they’re using energy and such, but hey, do you have microbial growth and do you have the proper ventilation in the bathroom and the kitchen, and are you using it?

                                                By the way, do you have children or anyone in this house that has asthma or allergies? Do you know that the way your house was constructed may be contributing to those issues? Might we improve their health if we address the construction of your home and how things are? The air tightness, put the ventilation kind of goes hand in hand.

Marla Esser:                       Right, it does. That’s something we’ve talked about. Is that a shocker to a lot of homeowners?

Kellye M.:                            I don’t know that people, when they … They’re thinking energy efficiency when they call about an audit and they’re not completely understand the full scope of the whole house performance aspect. There’s a lot of education that happens on my end and we need to … It’s kind of an uphill climb, but that’s why we do the things like today, is to help folks understand a little bit more about that whole process and why it would benefit them.

Marla Esser:                       What’s the number one reason people call you?

Kellye M.:                            Their bills are high and they have lack of comfort. That’s number one reason.

Marla Esser:                       Then what do you think is the number one surprise that people get from working with you, discovering these things about their home?

Kellye M.:                            When folks see me do an audit, they say, “Holy cow, I see already before your report, that I just got way more than my money’s worth.”

Marla Esser:                       Nice.

Kellye M.:                            It’s true.

Marla Esser:                       I like that.

Tony Pratte:                       That’s always nice.

Kellye M.:                            When I’m there all day and they see all the diagnostic testing and the thoroughness of my energy audit, I usually knock their socks off.

Marla Esser:                       Then you get the interpretation on top of that, which is where it becomes actionable.

Kellye M.:                            That’s right.

Marla Esser:                       It’s the actions that matter, we all know that.

Kellye M.:                            That’s right. I had a guy one time, I was at the home show and one of my very first customers, I helped him, I consulted with him throughout his repair process and he repaired his own home.

Marla Esser:                       Oh, wow.

Kellye M.:                            I was at a home show and I was talking to a customer and trying to explain an energy audit, and this guy just happened to walk up in the middle of this conversation and say, “Everything she says is true. She’s awesome. You need to hire her.” I burst into laughter I said, “I really didn’t pay that guy to do that. I really didn’t.” But I mean, that is the reaction that my customers have.

Tony Pratte:                       And testimonials from your customers are always going to be your best form of advertising.

Kellye M.:                            Yeah.

Marla Esser:                       What’s one of your most fulfilling projects?

Kellye M.:                            Oh gosh. There’s been so many. I mean, I get a charge out of, you know, when you go to a house, you don’t know what you’re going to be facing.

Marla Esser:                       Yeah.

Kellye M.:                            And what you’re going to find.

Marla Esser:                       I can imagine.

Kellye M.:                            But when you have somebody who has oh, one I had a condo where it was 20 degree difference from the top floor to the basement, couldn’t use the front two rooms and I’m going into this thinking, “Oh, am I going to be able to solve this problem?” But I know how to use my tools, I always do solve the problem.

                                                When I find that smoking gun, it’s a charge. It’s like there it is. That’s the hole, or that is the place. In this particular condo, it was caulking where the brick wall met the ceiling and hot air was just pouring into this house.

Marla Esser:                       Oh wow, yeah.

Kellye M.:                            It was a caulk job and a large part of this heat problem and cold problem was a caulk job, right?

Marla Esser:                       Which is such a simple solution.

Kellye M.:                            No contractor who sells insulation is not going to tell you that.

Marla Esser:                       Yep.

Tony Pratte:                       No, because he wants to sell more insulation.

Kellye M.:                            Or a contractor who’s selling HVAC is not going to tell you that hey, you need to caulk this part of your wall.

Marla Esser:                       You need a $2 tube of caulk.

Kellye M.:                            Right.

Tony Pratte:                       You know what? That’s-

Kellye M.:                            By the way, you can do it yourself.

Tony Pratte:                       That’s a great point though, because that sometimes is the difference between some of the homes we see done by a production builder versus a custom builder. The custom builder, those seams are always caulked in the big custom builder, whereas in a production, you can walk by and see sunlight all the time.

Marla Esser:                       Yeah, sometimes.

Kellye M.:                            Well, and I even have worked with new home builders to help them understand how can we improve what we’re doing? Even though this is an energy efficient building, how can we improve this?

Marla Esser:                       Keep going, Kellye. You’re making it happen, and kudos to you for really putting it out there and helping to move it all forward. Unbelievably, we are out of time. I can’t thank you enough.

Kellye M.:                            We had so much to talk about.

Marla Esser:                       I know. I tell you, I tell everybody-

Tony Pratte:                       It’s only half an hour.

Marla Esser:                       It goes fast, but this is a great way to get people back on the show talking more about this. The more we can share these experiences, the more people can take action, make a huge difference in their own homes, and that gives us the chance to keep gab and green. So, thanks. Check us out on Green Home Coach. See you next time.