Grace Yang: Local Hero

Setting an Example for Family and the Future

Grace Yang is a full-time mother, attorney and Energy Hero living in Berkeley, California. She’s turned her family home into a model of energy efficiency.

Why was it important for you to make your home more energy efficient?

We wanted to make energy upgrades to our home because one, we take a lot of pride in our home. Two, we have a young kid and we want to try and save energy wherever we can and use energy efficiently where possible. Three, it makes a positive impact on the environment.

In what ways did you upgrade your home?

We were lucky because the windows and doors were new when we bought the house—that helped out a lot. We got a home energy assessment and ended up updating our entire heating system and added insulation to the ceiling crawlspace above several rooms. The heater does zone heating. Basically it will heat only the rooms in which the system detects movement. It was weird at first, but it actually works well.

“I don’t think it needs to solve all the problems; you’ve got to start somewhere and save some energy.”

Those are big changes. What are some small things you do to save energy?

We pay attention to little things, like we never run our dishwasher right away—we always set the four-hour delay so it runs after peak hours. We do the same thing with our laundry machine. Our house can get super hot, so we pull the blinds down during the day to keep it cooler. All our lights are LEDs.

Do you feel like your upgrades make a difference?

I think it makes a difference. It might not make the biggest difference, and some might say, “Well, it’s not going to solve all the problems.” But I don’t think it needs to solve all the problems; you’ve got to start somewhere and save some energy. I don’t see anything bad about that, even if it’s not as much as you’d like.

What advice would you give to new homeowners?

Get the energy assessment and actually do the upgrades. It’s extremely straightforward, and the state provides credits that are very motivating for larger investments to help you make those upgrades. I mention it to my friends who are like us, moving away from city and apartment life to homeowner life. I really encourage people to learn more.