Jeremy and Lyssa Duncan met in Basalt in 2012. Lyssa has been a teacher for Aspen School District, and many teachers in the Valley experience the challenge of buying a new home in Pitkin County, which can cost up to three times as much as a home in many other Colorado counties. They decided to join the waitlist for the Pitkin County housing lottery while living in a teachers’ housing unit. They made a 650 square feet unit work for the two of them and their infant daughter, who slept in their bathroom on a bed Jeremy made out of plywood. The couple felt they were at a crossroads, debating whether or not to relocate. “It’s the sad reality of making it work in the Valley,” Jeremy said. “Housing is an issue for workforce members. We didn’t have a huge financial safety net,” Jeremy said.
That all changed when Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork decided to launch an affordable townhouse project. Partnering with Pitkin County, the Roaring Fork Valley School District, and Holy Cross Energy, Habitat’s project made it possible for 27 families to move into budget-friendly, net-zero energy townhomes.
After 8 years of waiting, the Duncan family won the housing lottery and purchased their townhome for $395,000. Jeremy and Lyssa and their now two children moved into the 4-bedroom home in the fall of 2020. Prior to moving in, Jeremy and Lyssa contributed to some of the construction labor for the first phase of the project. “The concept of sweat equity played a big part in the culture and the feel of the community.” Jeremy said.
The Duncan’s were very happy to purchase an affordable home, and its all-electric and net-zero energy aspects were an added bonus. Lyssa grew up with electric baseboard heaters, but always carried preconceived notions about electric being more expensive. “I never would’ve anticipated how inexpensive our bills would be. It’s remarkable that I don’t have to sacrifice turning on the air conditioning because our operating costs are almost free,” Lyssa said.
As an IT professional, Jeremy appreciates the high efficiency of their new home. It stays comfortable even in the cold winters and requires minimal air-conditioning in the summer. The two also appreciate the quick response of the induction cooktop. In addition, generating more electricity than they use helps to keep energy costs very low.
The Duncan’s are very grateful for their home and appreciate how the Habitat Roaring Fork Basalt Vista project is helping place families in secure housing, making it possible to retain teachers in the area. “We’re happy and also feel so lucky that we own our home and walked into a fully new, all-electric space,” Lyssa said. “And I love the low energy costs! ” Jeremy added.
Love Electric aims to accelerate the adoption of heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and other efficient electric technologies in homes and businesses across Colorado, to lower consumer energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide improved health, comfort and other benefits. Love Electric is an initiative of the Beneficial Electrification League of Colorado (BEL-CO).