Sunday, January 28, 2001

The Hess/Ziegenhardt home

       Brian Hess thought hešd done everything right before buying his first home three years ago. Hešd researched the previous ownersš energy bills, and figured costs were within reach to heat the 30-year-old ranch.

       Then came his $217 December bill, a 74 percent increase over his $125 bill just one month before.

[photo] The Hess/Ziegenhardt home
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       “I never have bills that high,” says Mr. Hess, 28, whose heating bills rarely ever topped $75. “I called Cinergy as soon as I opened the mail to make sure that they werenšt doing something wrong.”

       Now, Mr. Hess monitors his energy use closely. The thermostat doesnšt go past 68 degrees, every speck of light is accounted for, and “I even check the meter every now and again to make sure it isnšt flying around,” he says.

Michelle Ziegenhardt and Brian Hess
       The home he shares with his fiancee, Michelle Ziegenhardt, has walls made of plaster on top of wood on top of brick. They canšt be insulated, but tight windows with double panes help keep some of the heat in.

       Mr. Hess says hešs considering putting in a wood-burning stove in a year or two as an alternative heating source. But first, he says hešll need to insulate his basement and attic and replace his old furnace. This spring, he might consider sealing holes and cracks in his duct work and insulating the pipes around his water heater.

       “These heating bills have certainly cut into my entertainment expenses,” Mr. Hess says. “I sure canšt go out and party every night.”

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- The Hess/Ziegenhardt home
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