You are here

Maryland Abuzz with Retrofit Converts

January 7, 2010 - 2:06pm


Tim Kenny got a college degree in fisheries biology, but his real passion lies in something he’s spent the last 20 years doing — helping American families in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. He makes his living in the clean energy economy by finding ways people can save money on their energy bills and make their homes cleaner, safer and more comfortable.

About four years ago, he started Housewarmers, a business that performs energy audits and weatherization work on the homes of everyday clientele. Tim also helps community action agencies complete weatherization work as a contractor through a separate nonprofit business, C&O Conservation, for low-income programs recently boosted by the Recovery Act.

Energy efficiency tax credits and the country’s renewed focus on saving energy have added to the interest and spike in demand that Tim’s business has witnessed. He recently made 40 new in-house and contractor hires. 

People who are getting into weatherization work across the country right now are experiencing a tremendous opportunity because the work requires an employee to be a “jack of all trades,” Tim says, proficient in everything from replacing windows to testing heating systems.

One client who has witnessed Housewarmers’ work first-hand is Dan Levy, a former building construction instructor at the University of Maryland. The teacher-turned-contractor is now living in the seventh home that he’s bought and remodeled. His current home was built in Baltimore in 1958 and was in dire need of weatherization.

Dan’s home was originally constructed with a radiant foil barrier but no other insulation – leading to big energy losses. There was no insulation in the walls or cathedral ceilings — numerous air leaks and those pretty, but inefficient ceilings, made his living and dining rooms “unusable” because of the temperature extremes.

 “In the winter, the ceiling was like a refrigerator — it was just unbelievable how poorly this home performed,” he says.

After sealing up most of the leaks himself, Dan decided to call in Housewarmers to help with the insulation. His energy bills are now significantly lower than his neighbors’. And in addition to the cost savings, his home is more comfortable year-round. Now, as part of his own work, Dan shows his own clients how they can better utilize existing spaces, and from the lessons learned from Housewarmers he can make recommendations on how clients can make their homes more energy-efficient while he’s at it.