Contest winners eye energy savings

Mark Frye (right) shows Charleston Mayor Joe Riley the new insulation pieces on the attic door of his home in South Windermere. Frye and his wife were the winners of the CharlestonWISE Home Energy Makeover Contest and the $10,000 energy home makeover.

The Frye family hopes going green means keeping more of their “green.”

The South Windermere residents were the featured winners Friday of a home energy makeover contest in which $10,000 in housing improvements hopefully leads to a 40 percent savings on their energy bill.

That translates to between $850 and $1,200 a year.

The five-member family was one of two households selected in the 2011 CharlestonWISE energy efficiency contest makeover.

Their 1953 brick home on Tarleton Drive was picked largely because of the significant cost savings that could be reached in upgrading the older home. About 225 applications for the contest came in.

Among the changes were going to a tankless water heater and adding insulation and protective layers in the attic and crawl space.

Plus there were the little things, such as insulating ceiling lights for heat, and addressing sources of leaks.

“In every room of the house you can find some caulking or some sealant that was applied,” said Marks’ wife, Julie.

The contest is part of the partnership between the city of Charleston and the non-profit Sustainability Institute to support energy conservation construction, upgrades and tactics both at home and in the workplace.

Mark Frye said a big takeaway from the makeover is that it makes sense for homeowners to address efficiency needs all at once.

He told a story of changing out windows a few years back in the name of comfort and cost savings. But because other deficiencies in the house weren’t addressed at the same time, the big savings didn’t materialize.

Bryan Cordell, director of the Sustainability Institute, called the comprehensive attack on energy leaks the “whole house approach.”

Friday’s press conference on the finished product came ahead of Sunday’s Earth Day celebration.

“It is a wonderful win-win for the people of our community,” Mayor Joe Riley said of efforts to make homes energy efficient through locally provided work.

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.