Daily Progress: Belmont contest winners making home more energy efficient

Susan and Mike Kruse have lived in their Belmont home for six years, and, just as people who were once strangers can get to know and discover each other’s quirks over several years, they developed a pretty good idea of what their 1930s house was like.

Or so they thought.

Because of when the house was built, Mike Kruse said, the couple already knew its walls weren’t insulated, that better windows might help keep air inside, and the house was leaky around its doors.

What they didn’t realize was that the furnace and ductwork, sitting in an uninsulated crawl space, produces heat and conditioned air well but a lot of it doesn’t even make it inside the house. Their house was leaking two-and-a-half times more conditioned air than it should be for a place of its size. And, their roof was underconstructed — meaning another turbulent winter could spell major trouble for their home.

“I was surprised our house was as inefficient as it was,” said Susan Kruse, whose one-story home on Early Street was deemed the city winner of the Local Energy Alliance Program’s Home Energy Makeover Contest. “We’re not using that much [energy], but compared to other houses this size, we are.”

The Kruses uncovered more mysteries about their house because of an energy audit they received after becoming a finalist in the makeover contest, which in the end chose one city and one Albemarle Countyhome to get up to $10,000 in home energy efficiency improvements. County winners Mark and Estelle Brooks live in a 1987 townhouse and even it, while close to six decades newer than the Kruses’ house, was found to have many of the same efficiency problems.