Plan Your Own Project

Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition recommends four simple steps to plan and implement an effective home energy-efficiency retrofit project:


–    TEST (click to jump to Test section)

–     IMPROVE(click to jump to Improve section)

–     RETEST (click to jump to Retest section)

–     MEASURE (click to jump to Measure section)

If you or someone you know is a senior citizen or income-eligible, you may be able to have a Project GREEN retrofit done at no cost through the DuPage Low-Income Weatherization Program.  For more information, please visit DuPage County’s Website: (  or call DuPage County Human Services at 630-407-6500.

Test – Diagnostic tools exist today to tell you exactly where your home leaks energy and why.  A professional energy auditor will assess your entire home to pinpoint energy leaks.  They will often also checking for the safety of combustion equipment in your home such as your furnace.  An auditor will often review your recent utility bills.  Once the assessment is complete the auditor will provide a list of recommendations to improve the energy efficiency of your home.  The auditor typically does not sell products and provides an objective view on your energy-saving priority areas.  Usually the list is ranked so you can see which projects will payback for themselves most quickly.

Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition recommends that all Project GREEN retrofits include the following steps in an energy audit:

–     review of past utility bills (12-24 months)

–     blower door test

–     thermographic inspection or infrared scan

–     combustion safety test 

–     test-out audit





The data allows the auditor to quantify the amount of air leakage and the effectiveness of any air-sealing job.


Thermographic Inspection or Infrared Scanning


Images on the video or film record the temperature variations of the building’s skin to check the effectiveness of the insulation.The scans used with a blower door test running helps exaggerate air leaking through defects in the building shell.



For more information: 

–   See “What to Expect from a Home Energy Audit” video


–    Prepare for an energy audit with Do-It-Yourself resources from the Department of Energy (

Improve – Retrofit projects first focus on correcting any safety issues with your furnace and other combustion equipment.  Then they address three things together – proper ventilation, air sealing and insulation.  But, before you can start improvement work, you need to think about which projects will payback most quickly and how to pay for the work.   The Financing & Tax Credits page on this website for resources to help pay for your project. (

–    Ventilation – When creating an energy-efficient, airtight home, it is very important to consider ventilation. The retrofit must ensure proper ventilation to prevent build-up of mold, carbon monoxide or other dangers in your home. Review basic ventilation strategies for a healthy, energy-efficient home. 



–     Air Sealing – Sealing gaps in your home stops hot air from entering during the summer and prevents cold air from coming in during the winter  Properly air sealing cracks and openings in your home can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs, improve building durability, and create a healthier indoor environment. For air sealing an existing home go to: ( 

–    Insulation – Installing insulation maintains heated or cooled air for longer, inside your home where you pay for it to be!    Properly insulating your home will make your home more comfortable and reduce your heating and cooling costs. For instructions for adding insulation to an existing house, go: (, check where insulate is typically installed in a home: (





For more information: 

–    The online brochure Keep Warm Illinois:  Tightening, Insulation & Ventilation Guide is a great resource for learning more about these topics, common projects and materials used.  (


Retest – The key to Project GREEN is not just getting the work done, but making sure it is done right.  Projects don’t save energy unless they are done properly!  A second “test-out” energy audit confirms that the energy improvements you paid for are really saving you energy.  Contractors certified to the Building Performance Institute standard use a test-out audit in their work.  Contractors featured on the Project GREEN directory ( also accept final payment after a satisfactory test-out audit.


Measure  – Measuring your energy use is the same as using a scale while you are on a diet!  You can use simple or advance techniques to measure your energy use.  The most simple way to track energy use is to hold on to your utility invoices and log your usage each month on paper or in an electronic spreadsheet.  Software is available to do advanced tracking. You enter utility data each month and then the software generates charts to help you see your progress.  Some software shows you how changes in daily temperature impact your energy usage from year to year. Keep your receipts for future proof of the value added to your retrofitted home!  Ask your local real estate agent about new fields in the local multiple listing service that allow you to showcase green improvements. (

For more information:

–    Create an online account with ComEd to pull your electricity usage for the past two years.  (

–    Create an online account with Nicor to pull your natural gas usage for the past two years. (

Advanced Tracking:  Elmhurst District 205 has partnered with GreenQuest to provide free energy tracking software to our community.  Enter your usage data and then easily produce usage charts and evaluate how seasonal temperature changes influence your energy use.  (