Energy Upgrade California

September 2011

By Cynthia Ruzzi, President, Sustainable Danville Area

It’s been a ‘cool’ summer.  Sounds like the start of a conversation returning school kids might have with their friends, but I’m actually referring to our weather.  In a summer when our community has rarely reached the average temperatures of the blistering high 80’s, my one complaint is minimized by the many benefits our weather has offered us these past three months.  My impatience with the Italian heirloom tomatoes still green in my garden is offset by lovely weather that welcomes cool morning runs, afternoon hikes, daytime alfresco dining, ball play filling our parks, comfortable evenings for park concerts and of course, lots of bicycle riding.   Yes, it’s been a ‘cool’ summer and best of all – mine was air conditioning free!

Our few occasional hot spells lasted only a few days and the natural air-conditioning of the Bay Area – better known as fog – enabled us to go the whole summer without turning on the air conditioning in our home.  Before you imagine my family sweltering, huddled around a noisy fan, you should know our home is a comfortable 70 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit both day and night.

Our single story home on the Southeast side of Danville is partially blanketed on the West by two Redwood trees – which we have lovingly named ‘Mark & Julie’ after the neighbors whose property they occupy.  Our modest home faces South with sleeping quarters situated on the cooler North side of the property.  Open the windows after sunset and the house captures the foggy breezes coming over the western hills across Cow Creek ensuring cool indoor temperatures for the following day.

I doubt the architect/builders were considering energy conservation when our home was built in 1978, but they certainly got a lot right.  And throughout the years, our green remodeling has improved on the original footprint.  Besides replacing older windows with vinyl double paned retrofits years ago, we have installed Low-E glass windows on the West side – which makes it comfortable to cook dinner even on 90 degree days.   Northern and Eastern exposures offer us natural light and drapery drawn closed across the remaining windows on hot summer days  keep out the sun’s heat and prevent fading of furniture and carpets.

The open plan is tiled throughout most of our home which is a welcome feature for temperature control and improved air quality. We quickly clean the floors using a steam cleaner (sanitizing with hot water without using chemical cleaners) verses accumulating allergens in between periodic carpet cleanings.

Want to know what change has made the biggest impact to temperature control in our home?  A few years ago, we upgraded our attic installation and added an energy efficient roof fan!  Besides installation settling since original construction – the materials and recommendations have changed in the last 30 years.  We believe this low cost improvement is why our home is cool in the summer and warmer in the winter.

  • Are your energy bills high?
  • Does your house get hotter or chillier than you’d like?
  • Are you concerned about wasting energy?
  • Are you interested in learning how to LOWER YOUR ENERGY USE AND SAVE DOLLARS FOR YOUR HOME?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, then we invite you to join us on Monday, September 19th 6:30-8:00pm at the Town Hall, 201 Front Street in Danville. Sustainable Danville Area and the Town of Danville are co-hosting an energy-savings forum in conjunction with a new state program called Energy Upgrade California (

The evening’s topics will include tips on making your home more energy efficient and information on how to reduce your bills with rebates and cost savings. A local homeowner who has upgraded their home using the Energy Upgrade California program will describe their experience.  To qualify for the program, homeowners must first provide a professional energy upgrade performance assessment that details the conditions of their house. If the results of the assessment show that an upgrade will make a home 15 to 40 percent more energy efficient, homeowners can qualify for rebates ranging from $1,500 to $4,000 to have a contractor do the retrofit. Participants attending the forum will receive a breakdown of the rebate options available and how to apply. After the presentation, contractors will be on hand to answer specific questions residents may have about improving energy efficiency in their homes.

For more information, please visit or telephone Anne Cavazos at 925-830-9262.

Reprinted with permission from Danville Today News/Alamo Today News