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Thanksgiving is a time for reflecting — not to fixate on achievements or challenges, but to feel gratitude for what we’ve learned and appreciate how far we’ve come.

With that in mind, and to help celebrate the season, let’s hear from four homeowners as they look back on home performance improvements, share the valuable lessons they’ve learned, and reflect on the things for which they’re grateful.

“A More Comfortable and Sustainable Home to Live In”

Substantially improving your home’s energy resilience and performance is no small feat in any context. But doing so is especially impressive when the home in question is a cottage built in 1922 — and when the weather outside is Maine’s.

None of that stood in the way for Patrick Woodcock, who, after moving with his partner and their two young children to a picturesque cottage, successfully wrapped a series of critical home performance improvement projects. For example:

The results of all those efforts? They pretty much speak for themselves, but here’s what Patrick says: “We now have world-class insulation, and we’re seeing substantial cost-savings, too — I’d estimate that the air-source heat pump alone has offset our reliance on the gas furnace, and the associated costs, by about 40%.”

Specific and measurable enhancements aside, the bigger picture is what Patrick feels most grateful for during this time of year: “I’m happy to say, on behalf of my whole family, that we now feel like we have a much more comfortable and sustainable home to live in.”

Read the Whole Story: How One Maine Homeowner Turned His 101-Year-Old Home Into a Haven

“My Own Version of Retirement Planning”

“Home performance improvements” go by another name for Pearl Real Estate Network member and certified EcoBroker Jan Green, whose success in bringing her Phoenix metro area home to net-zero status also earned it a Gold Tier ranking for home energy performance from Pearl Certification.

That name, in Jan’s book, is “retirement planning.”

“I wanted this house to stand as a model for what anyone can accomplish, but I also approached these improvement projects as my own version of ‘retirement planning’ because for older people like me, for baby boomers starting to gear up for retirement, it makes so much financial sense,” Jan says, adding that “many baby boomers haven’t saved up for retirement.”

She isn’t wrong: In fact, almost half of baby boomers don’t have any retirement savings at all, and for many of them, Jan’s approach may rank among the most attainable and financially viable paths forward.

Of course, doing so will require a little advanced planning — it’s best to begin roughly 10 years before you intend to retire, by Jan’s math — but getting started can also be as easy as scheduling a home energy audit.

“The energy audit is going to tell you exactly what you need to replace or fix in a systematic way,” Jan says. “After I had my energy audit done, I was able to go through the report item by item and check things off.”

As for her own future, Jan, who is mortgage free, debt free, and will have potentially zero electrical or gas bills going forward, foresees “traveling as much as I want,” along with a few final home performance improvements that she wants to execute — all prospects for which she’s immensely grateful.

Related Post: How to Start Getting Your Home Ready for Aging in Place

“If You Didn’t Have Certification From Pearl…”

Brett and Laura Little knew they weren’t exactly getting a “new build” when they bought their home on the outskirts of Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2016. By the same token, they had no idea it would be so ahead of its time from an energy efficiency standpoint, either.

“We really lucked out,” Brett admits, “because even though the house was built in 2003, it was built to many of today’s standards.”

As a direct result, Brett, for whom sustainability is a personal passion, as well as a professional area of expertise, found himself free to undertake exciting, high-impact home performance improvements like the following:

  • Replacing his home’s old-fashioned water heater with a far more energy-efficient heat pump water heater (HPWH)

  • Swapping out the existing clothing dryer for a condensing, all-electric alternative with no penetrations in the wall, simultaneously reducing air leakage and opportunities for pest entry while cutting down on the risk of dryer fires

  • Installing a Mitsubishi Hyper Heat cold-climate air source heat pump, which Brett reports has admirably handled the considerable challenge of a Michigan winter

  • Undertaking solar and battery system upgrades as equity-building assets that also improved the home’s overall energy resilience

Thanks to these and other upgrades, the Little’s home went on to secure a Platinum Tier ranking from Pearl Certification, our highest rank for energy efficiency and home performance.

While securing the necessary financing, Brett also stumbled into another reason to feel grateful this season: “When it was time for refinancing, the appraiser told us, ‘Honestly, I wouldn’t have even looked at this property if you didn’t have certification from Pearl in place.’”

Read the Whole Story: Inside a Platinum-Certified Home: Brett Little’s Homeowner Journey

“It Transformed Our Living Environment”

The pandemic caught most of us by surprise, but that proved to be a more general theme for Liam Murphy and his partner, Kaity, after moving into their first home amidst lockdown restrictions.

The new home’s biggest surprise? “It was a great house,” Liam concedes, “but we quickly discovered it was really uncomfortable to actually live in.”

Specifically, they were maddeningly unable to maintain consistent, comfortable indoor air temperatures, a problem which Liam traced to two different areas: the home’s air sealing — or lack thereof — and its inadequate HVAC system.

Recognizing the scope of the challenge, Liam, at that point, wisely turned to Pearl Certification for help with the solution, using the Green Door app to develop a customized Pearl Home Investment PlanTM before undertaking the necessary renovations.

Six months later, Liam and Kaity could reflect on their house and tell a whole different story. “It transformed our living environment,” Liam says. “It was like living in a completely different home. Plus, our utility bills have plummeted across the board."

Having successfully overhauled their home’s building shell and HVAC system, what’s more, Liam and Kaity saw no reason to stop and went on to remodel the kitchen, including upgrades to cost-saving, more energy-efficient appliances.

Now, looking back on those uneasy early days, Liam and Kaity can see how much they have to be thankful for, and they give Green Door a lot of the credit.

”Once you see what a difference the right investments — and help from the right partner — can make, there's no reason not to keep improving your home's energy efficiency,” Liam says.

Read the Whole Story: First-Time Homeowners Go From Miserable to Merry With Green Door

Next Step: Get Started with Green Door

Want to share in the gratitude expressed by Patrick, Jan, Brett, and Liam that comes with meaningful accomplishments like these? Eager to inaugurate a home performance improvement journey of your own?

If so, be sure to download Green Door, the free app from Pearly Certification, which provides hands-on support at every stage. For example, it can help you identify and take advantage of cost-saving opportunities, prioritize upgrades based on your home performance goals, find the right certified contractors in your area, ensure you benefit from high-quality home installations, and a whole lot more.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones from all of us at Pearl Certification!

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