Turning a Full-time Project into a Cozy Home
The basement of this 1835 Rockland, Maine home was something else. There was the 70 year-old woodstove – “it heated the cellar really well, and eventually some of that heat filtered upstairs” – and the coal boiler fueling a DIY radiant heat system. There was also water - almost a foot of it several times a year, soaking the five cords of wood that had to be lugged inside in the fall. The furnace had to be stoked six times a day.
Ken is a former island manager, retired harbormaster, and town dump manager. He knows how to tinker, make do, and do it himself, but state rebates prompted him to call Evergreen Home Performance. Ken couldn’t leave his house for fear the furnace would die, the grueling maintenance schedule was taking its toll, and “It was beyond time to make a change.”
Technical Advisor Steve Seekins used a blower door test to evaluate air leakage and infrared analysis to identify areas of heat loss. His findings were no surprise: the inefficient furnace couldn’t keep the leaky old house warm, and the wet basement was causing huge moisture and air quality problems.
Evergreen Home Performance installed foam insulation and air sealing from top (dense packed cellulose in the attic) to bottom (2” of spray-foam insulation on the rubble foundation). The basement was fully encapsulated, with a vapor barrier, sump pump, and drainage system to keep everything dry. Evergreen also helped coordinate the installation of a solar hot water heater from ReVision Energy and a new, high-efficiency propane furnace.
Since the project reduced Rich’s energy costs by more than 50%, it qualified for significant state and federal rebates. The remaining cost – including the new boiler and solar hot water system – was about $40,000.
Ken might as well live in a new house. Adequate insulation reduced heat loss by more than 50% and energy costs by more than that. It now costs less than $800 a year to stay toasty warm – no hauling, stacking, or stoking required. “I love this house,” Ken says. “I’m going to die in this house – and not anytime soon.”