Issue 1: Spring/Summer 2022
David Hartcorn’s new home needed much more than a home energy audit. It was still a good place to start.
Meet David Hartcorn
This former professional investment advisor and newlywed instantly comes off as a clever creator. You can see it in the mischievous gleam in his eye. You can experience it in his dry wit. We sat down with David to hear his thoughts about his new home and its transformation.
"The previous owner had CFL bulbs everywhere. That ghoulish 5,000 Kelvin tint made everybody look like a cadaver.”
How long have you lived in Annapolis?
Forty years ago, I was living in Boston. I got sick of having to take the battery out of my car every night, getting my car out of the snow. It was bad. My girlfriend used to live in Annapolis. She goes, “It’s a nice place.” I said, “Let’s go.” And like two days later, we moved to Annapolis. That’s what you do when you’re 24.
Who’s at your house?
My son and myself, but we’re soon to be joined by my fiancée and her two children.
What do you do for a living?
I was a registered investment advisor for 24 years, and I finally sold that business and opened a photography studio.
What work skills did you use to make your decision to schedule a home energy audit with BGE’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program?
Photography is problem solving and decisions. So, it was a natural fit for me.
When did you move into your current home?
June of 2018.
Did you start seeing some things that raised your eyebrows?
Every square inch of this house was a problem. Living in and restoring this house is sort of like living on a wooden boat. Wooden boats are beautiful, but they can be demanding mistresses.
Do you regret buying it?
Oh no. The house had great bones—a great floor plan. And, it’s got 9-foot ceilings. Even though the rooms are not huge, they feel big. But the house was painted with high-gloss paint—ceiling, walls, everything. And the colors were so cringe-y, so we set about correcting that.
Throw out a color that just made you shudder.
Do you remember the really horrible avocado green appliances? That was the color of the master bedroom. But it gets worse. The previous owner had CFL bulbs everywhere. That ghoulish 5,000 Kelvin tint made everybody look like a cadaver. So, that first trip to the hardware store was to find bulbs to correct that.
What things do you really like about your home?
The layout is fantastic. You walk in the front door, and you’re in a nice-sized living room. And it has a great dining room and kitchen. To the left is what I would call the private area, and there are three bedrooms and a bath.
What about the closets?
Let’s talk about the closets for a second. Apparently, in 1922, people had like two pairs of underwear and two shirts because there was—the closets are hysterical.
One of them is 31 inches wide and nine feet tall. So maybe they collected tennis ball cans or something. So, I’ve had to work around that.
What does homeownership mean to you?
Homeownership is a place I belong. Have you ever heard the expression, nobody’s ever washed a rental car? It’s the same thing when you’re renting. It’s not really yours, and it’s transitory. I like the project of owning a house. I enjoy basically treating it like a blank slate and redoing it like it should be done.
You had a pretty good idea the moment you got there that you were going to be working on it, and that seems like something you enjoy.
Totally. Just ask my neighbors. In fact, I’m finishing the basement, and I’ve had to buy exotic chocolates and bottles of wine for all my neighbors for all the noise I have been making, especially in the last month. But I’ve always had an eye for that kind of stuff.
Did you use that eye when you bought this home?
This house is one block away from where my studio was. I used to drive by this house all the time to get to the post office. Every time I drove by, I was like—man, I really like that house. One day, I finally decided, you know what? I’m going to write the guy a note saying if you ever want to sell this house, call me first. And I drove around the corner, and there was a “for sale” sign. I was like, you’re kidding me! So, I called my agent, and I said, “Find a way to buy this house.” So, we did it.
I think it was meant to be.
What interested you when it came to learning about energy efficiency in your home?
It’s not exactly one of the glamorous aspects of homeownership. My whole career as a photographer is about aesthetics, so aesthetics are super important to me. Form has to follow function, but form is important to me for certain things. The energy side of it got my attention when I started looking at my utility bills. It’s 1,300 square feet, and I’m getting a $500 utility bill. So, there’s something wrong here.
Being a guy who made investments, that’s not good math.
It’s bad math. So, I called up BGE and had them do a test on my meter. They sent some folks out who looked around and offered some suggestions, but it really wasn’t anything transformative. I called them back, and they said, “We have contractors that we work with. They will come and analyze your house, and then they will figure out what needs to be done to make your house more energy efficient.” And, I said, “Cool.”
What was the process like?
This fellow, Seth, came out, and he did a pressurized test, the blower-door test. They closed all the doors, and then they depressurized the house to measure how much air leakage there was. Then we went up to the attic. It was the type of thing you’d see in horror movies. There was insulation hanging out of the rafters.
It was just dreadful. He looked around and said, “You might as well just leave all the windows open, because this attic is a sieve.”
It was freezing up there during the winter, and during the summer, it was like 125°.
What happened next, after you agreed to make the recommended home improvements?
He went in with his crew, and they sealed the whole attic. And then, what was interesting after that was, during the winter it stayed a steady 68°, and during the summer it got up to maybe 80°, 85°.
A big difference.
It did make a big difference. It probably resulted in a 10% to 15% drop in my utility bills, and the house was a lot more comfortable.
Did you feel it was money well spent?
Very much so. I told everybody that would listen to me what a good job they did, especially in the attic. They transformed it. And now, just a couple of months ago, I had it all drywalled and turned into a giant walk-in closet for my fiancée.
You finally got your closet.
Well, my fiancée did, yes.