Luke Leiden, 24, and Jim Conlon, 33, are casing a bulky brick home shrouded in tall bushes on the 3300 block of Idaho Avenue NW. They take pictures with a small digital camera. Leiden puts down notes into clipboard filled with data, drawings, and measurements.

It’s 10:03 a.m. There’s not many residents around. They don’t seem to care about being spotted. We pull over and jump out.

“We’re energy auditors,” explains Conlon.


Conlon says he runs Elysian Energy, LLC, a company that will inspect your house for it’s overall greenness. They work with the D.C. Department of Energy. He is wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the name “Elysian Energy.” They seem real.

Once they are finished, they say, the Idaho Ave. home owner will receive a 30-page PDF report telling them “what efficiency opportunities are available.” They also mention that they will “model the house in software.”

The two walk around to the back of the house.

“She has like 15 dogs,” Leiden brags to Conlon. This counts for a war story. The number of dogs is actually closer to four—a yapper and “two big ones.”

Conlon wants to check out the back patio door and walls leading to the basement.

“That might be single brick veneer,” Conlon tells Leiden. “I bet that’s what it is. Single brick plus R11.”

“So I should measure that whole area?” Leiden asks.

He should.

They check windows, cracks, whatever. Leiden has been inspecting the Idaho Ave house for two hours, taking pictures and measuring windows and walls. Earlier, he brought out the big gun in their arsenal—the industrial-looking fan for what he calls the “blower test.” The fan test is able detect draft sources. Leiden says he found that the house had the equivalent of a 520 square inch hole.

As the two walk back along the side of the house, Conlon points to the attic vent. A lot of the problems, they say, can be fixed $40 or $50 worth of foam and caulk. It can be empowering.

Conlon started Elysian two years ago. “That makes me a silverback,” he explains. He says he’s younger than most green-collar entrepeneurs but more experienced.

By 10:25 a.m., the two finish their assessment of the Idaho Avenue home. The owner will be getting a 30 page PDF asssessment.

“You want to meet the fan?” Conlon asks.

“She’s a little shy but don’t worry about it,” Leiden jokes.

*Photos by Darrow Montgomery. Text by jason Cherkis.