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Retiree renovates Colorado home to produce more energy than it uses » Yale Climate Connections

Lots of retirees take up projects around the house, like gardening, working on the car, or building a deck.

But Steve Stevens of Golden, Colorado, has gone further than most.

For 20 years, he’s been renovating his 1979 ranch house to make it as energy efficient as possible.

He started small, by adding insulation in his attic.

“And the house got to feel better. And my energy usage went down,” he says. “And I got more and more ideas for stuff I could do.”

He added thick insulation to his interior and exterior walls. He replaced windows. And he built vestibules at the entrances to the house, so people go through two doors to get inside.

“That makes it so that you don’t get drafts. You go in one, close it, then you go in the next,” he says.

His need for heating and cooling plummeted. And a rooftop solar array now supplies the home’s remaining energy needs.

To save money, Stevens uses salvaged windows and doors, buys imperfect lumber, and does almost all the work himself.

“So a two-day job for a 25-year-old craftsman, I would spend a month on,” he says. “That’s fine. I don’t have any deadlines.”

He says he’s motivated by thinking about the world his grandchildren will inherit and the need to protect it.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media

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