Building for the future

by Donica Kaneshiro | June 13, 2022

Jonathan Ocampo spent several years rebuilding his Waialua home with energy-saving upgrades.

When renovating or rebuilding a home, there are countless decisions — from flooring types and paint colors to contractor selection and building permits.

Renovating my family home in Kaimuki, I’ve found the options overwhelming at times. But I’ll be adding one more perspective to the decision-making process after talking to Jonathan Ocampo, who recently told me about how he approached his rebuild project in Waialua with a focus on energy conservation.

“It was an old plantation house, tongue and groove, two-wire electrical, it wasn’t grounded, really badly termite eaten. I told my wife it’s probably better to knock it down and replace the house than to try to remodel,” Jonathan said about the home they inherited in 2017.

The property before.

They researched the possibilities and decided to build a home that would stay as cool as possible without running the air conditioner. The couple insulated the walls of the house, installed ceiling fans and designed the main room of the house with 14-foot ceilings.

Insulated walls help keep Jonathan’s home cool.

“With the ceiling fans and the high ceiling, it actually makes the room feel cooler because the hot air is going to the top and the cold air is staying close to the ground,” he said.

They opted for upgraded windows after the heat-reflective coating on the windows of their previous home in Ewa Beach were only moderately effective.

Argon-filled double-paned windows also help keep heat out of Jonathan’s home.

“When we built the new house, we decided on getting double pane glass with argon in it,” Jonathan said. “The windows not only keep the heat out or the cold in, but also keep the noise out so it’s kind of a two-fold thing.”

They also installed LED lights, as they had in their Ewa Beach home.

Jonathan installed LED lights throughout his home.

“We also chose to put everything LED from the beginning,” he said. “Even outside the security lights are LED light, so that should minimize the amount of electricity we’re using.”

They bought new energy-efficient appliances and are planning to install a clothesline so they can skip the dryer on sunny days. “The new appliances were all Energy Star to again try to lower that amount of electricity we’re using.”

Even if you’re not building a new home, Jonathan said there are steps anyone can take.

“The place to start would be appliances — check your appliances if they’re old,” he said. “Then when you shop for new ones, make sure you shop for the Energy Star stuff, and then an easy thing is to change your light bulbs to LEDs.”

“You don’t necessarily have to change them all out, but as the old ones burn out, you replace them with LEDs,” Jonathan said.

The conservation-centered approach cost a little more money, but Jonathan said he thinks the investment will pay off.

“You pay now or you pay later,” he said. “We’re paying for all these things ahead of time and hopefully we’ll eventually break even and start saving money.”

As a renewable generation technician foreman, Jonathan is no stranger to our company’s conservation goals. He and his wife have always incorporated energy-saving habits into their lives.

“We don’t wash our laundry every day. We wash it when we get a load big enough to use the machine and make it worth running the dryer,” he said. “Our electric bill rarely ever breaks $100.”

I’ve learned the key to a good home renovation project is to think not just of your family’s lifestyle now, but to consider your needs in the future. Factoring energy conservation into our remodeling project makes sense for both today and the years to come.

For more energy-conscious home-building tips, visit hawaiianelectric.com/powertochange or hawaiienergy.com.

Donica Kaneshiro is a communications consultant at Hawaiian Electric Company.

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Established in 1891, Hawaiian Electric is committed to empowering its customers and communities by providing affordable, reliable, clean and sustainable energy.

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Hawaiian Electric

Established in 1891, Hawaiian Electric is committed to empowering its customers and communities by providing affordable, reliable, clean and sustainable energy.