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Main Street

This project is a case study on how to live within a “right-sized” home, improve and modify it over time as the occupants' needs change, without opting for a costly expansion.


When the owners, a young family of four, purchased this 3-bedroom townhouse in 2004 they made some initial non-structural, spatial/functional improvements by joining the kitchen and dining room, and refinishing throughout. Since their two kids were still small and the owner ran her business from home, the kids shared a bedroom while the third bedroom was used as a home office. To provide more space for indoor play, the basement was refinished as a children’s play room and a compact yet full second bathroom was added for both convenience and intermittent guest use.


In 2022, with the home business expanding and the kids entering Middle School, a reshuffle occurred. The home office was turned back into a bedroom to allow the kids to have their own rooms and the Living Room was reorganized as a multi-purpose space - Home Office by day, Family Room by night. This allowed the family’s changing needs to be met without the cost of either an addition or a move.


Simultaneously, another phase of improvement is underway to eliminate fossil fuel use by making the switch to 100% electrification. This is a multi-step process coinciding with the expected lifespans of various equipment in the house. The owner knows that if there is no plan, in an emergency building elements are replaced like for like, tying homeowners into fossil fuel use for longer. The electrification process is following these steps:

  • The owners signed up for Community Solar to get 100% of their electricity from a local solar farm near Rockford, IL.

  • The attic is being air sealed and insulated to convert it from a vented attic into a conditioned space. This creates a tight thermal envelope for the house and substantially decreases heating and cooling losses during peak winter and summer months.

  • The gas cooktop is being replaced with an Induction cooktop (fumes inhaled from gas cooking increases the likelihood of respiratory issues, particularly childhood asthma).

  • The gas tank water heater is being replaced with a hybrid heat pump electric tank water heater, which is 4x as efficient to operate as gas.

  • The gas clothes dryer is being replaced with a hybrid heat pump electric clothes dryer.

  • The gas furnace is being replaced with a heat pump system, which includes humidity control (to either humidify or dehumidify), auxiliary heat (if needed on those particularly freezing days), and an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) to provide fresh air.

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