How Low (carbon) Can You Go?

Posted on behalf of Jana Wilkes, Community Outreach Coordinator, Team East

kurkoski house

Us watching them present about their energy efficiency journey.

From last Sunday to Thursday, Team East stayed at Janice and Steve Kurkoski’s home in Warwick, MA.  Upon first inspection, the house looked like any other cute home tucked back in the woods.  We soon learned that this was no ordinary house.  Recently, Janice and Steve retrofitted their house to be so energy efficient that they only paid $240 for their heating bill last winter.

The whole process started with just the roof; originally they decided to insulate the roof and attic to make their house more energy efficient.  In the process, they discovered that carpenter ants had done a number on their walls.  So they decided that they might as well re-insulate the entire house!  They worked for an entire year stripping the walls and redoing the insulation.  It seemed like a grueling process to me but according to Janice, “It was a blast!” Now all their walls are at least eight inches thick and they get most of their electricity from a solar panel that overlooks their garden.


Janice and Steve’s beautiful garden complete with solar panels

So besides the awesomeness of having an extremely energy efficient house, why did they do it?  Their motivator is the same reason I am here this summer: the terrifying math of climate change.  If we want a chance of staying below a two degrees Celsius warming by 2050, we need to get down to four tons of greenhouse gas emissions per person per year and one ton of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  The average American currently emits 24 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent every year.  Janice and Steve felt that it was their responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint and they slashed 40% of their carbon emissions by retrofitting their house.  The good news is that it is possible to cut 40% of emissions by making your home more energy efficient.  If you live in Massachusetts, there is this great program called Mass Save that helps homeowners make their home more energy efficient while covering most of the cost.

Thank you, Janice and Steve for welcoming us into your solar-powered home.  I had such a great time learning how to reduce my carbon footprint.  I’m very grateful because not only have they greatly reduced their carbon footprint, they have also been helping others reduce their footprint.  One building at a time and we can help mitigate climate change!


We had a fantastic stay with Janice and Steve!

About njansen16

My name is Nicholas Jansen and I'm entering my fourth and last year at the University of Michigan. My major is Program in the Environment (PitE) with a specialization in water.
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