A couple of weeks ago, we got talking about the economy and new home construction, which led us to talking
about what it would take if someone wanted to take their existing home and upgrade it to an energy efficient
home, what it would cost and if it could be done with some kind of reasonable return on investment.  The
idea was to remove the existing siding, install a nail base SIP panel (a SIP panel with only one side with OSB)
to the outside wall, replace the windows and doors with Low-E windows and insulated doors, seal everything
up, add more insulation to the ceiling area and add on-grid solar.  With the savings from the added
insulation resulting in the need for a smaller solar generating system and with Federal assistance, the
package started to look reasonable.  We also estimated that we thought electrical costs would rise about 4%
a year, so with a fixed home equity cost, the savings per year would increase throughout the life of the loan.  
Another plus to consider is the increased value and resale of the home.  So, taking all this into
consideration, we thought we’d take a sample 2,300 sq/ft, 2 story home, and put some numbers together to
see what it might cost, and what the benefits might be.  To our surprise, the payback, in our sample, was day
one.  Now, this is just a rough estimate, no two houses are identical or are their needs are identical, and this
would have to estimated on a house to house situation.  The point, I think, is that for a vast majority of
homes, this might be a viable way to almost eliminate utility costs.  I would encourage you to make your own
estimate, and see where you stand.  Below is our estimate, so feel free to use it as a rough guide to see
where you might stand.   

Nail Base (SIPs), Metal or Vinyl Siding and Low-E Windows and Solar
Based on 2,300 Sq. Ft. 2-Story Home with 18 Windows and 3 Doors

Demolition of siding and windows
Horizontal Siding Removal – 2880 SF
Per Means Cost Data 2007 – 7 man days                                                           $1,900.80
Window Removal – 18 per man day @ $16.29 ea                                                  $291.60
Door Removal – $18.25 ea x 3                                                                                 $54.75
Rubbish Removal 2 ea 30 yd containers                                                             
Total Demolition                                                                                                $3,527.15

Add 4” nail base panels over exterior sheathing (R=15.2)
90 ea 48” x 96” x 4” panels @$67.50 each (A)                                                    $6,075.00
750 ea 5” SIP screws                                                                                              $220.00
1 ea 3.5” foam scoop                                                                                              $150.00
2x4 Blocking lumber (perimeter of walls/windows/doors)1500 LF                            $450.00
Install nail base @ $1.48 SF                                                                                 $4,262.40
Purchase and install house wrap $.27 SF (one man day)                                       $777.60
18 windows Pella 37x57 Low E double hung
wood clad ($212.00 ea + sales tax                                                                       $4,100.00
2 doors – ReliaBuilt Steel entry – 32” ($184.00 plus sales tax)                               $400.00
1 door – Pella 72” slider Low E Vinyl ($448.00 plus tax)                                         $480.00
Install 18 windows @ $34 ea.                                                                                  $612.00
Install 2 single and one double door ($40 x 2 + $168)                                            $248.00
Double 4” vinyl siding (materials = $3995.01 + labor $5867.73)                          $9,862.74
Add 6" ceiling insulation 1/2 cubic foot per sf of area
= $3.07 x 50% = $1.54 SF x 1150 SF                                                                 
Total Materials & Labor Cost of Installation                                                 $29,408.74
Total Project Cost                                                                                            $32,935.89

In Colorado with Xcel & Federal Solar Credits
Annual Cost of 2nd Mortgage for Home Improvement (30-year @ 6% on
$32,936)                                                                                                             $2,392.76
Add Solar (2.8-kilowatt PV on grid) - Annual Mortgage Cost                                
Total Cost of 2nd Mortgage (30-year @ 6%)                                                  $3,020.76
Annual Energy Savings for SIPs, Low-E  & Solar (100% of Utility Cost )            ($3,220.00)
First years Savings                                                                                                $199.24
Breakeven:  Annual Savings > Annual Mortgage Cost in:                            0 Years
Total Utility Costs plus 4% yearly increase over 30 Years                       $191,037.24
Total 30-Year Cost of 2nd Mortgage                                                          
30-Year Net Savings                                                                                     $100,414.44