True story: an 1800s Cape Cod in central Maine originally needed firewood for heating and cooking. Each year it took nine cords; a “lifestyle home” for a young family. On winter mornings every window was frosted, but Dad and Mom got the stoves going, so it was home-sweet-home. Alas, when Dad had a heart attack, firewood had to go. Oil saved the day for heating (four tanks for a winter), with electricity for cooking. So life continued.

Then the family got smart. The rattling, single-pane windows were exchanged for double-pane with vinyl frames. With help from Efficiency Maine in its early days, insulation was blown into the walls. More was placed in attic spaces. Perhaps most important, the top four feet of the fieldstone-and-cement basement walls were foamed. It not only kept the cold air out, it kept the mice out too.

Finally, the contractor did an air sealing using a blower door test. Hidden cracks were sealed up. But, to make sure the house was not too tight, especially in the bathroom, air was vented out to remove excess moisture.

Home heating decreased to just one tank of oil. So a heat pump was installed. It’s super. Only the coldest nights require backup oil. Air conditioning for summer heat comes as a bonus.

The greatest win? Annual costs reduced to a mere one-fifth of when the house started on oil.

Efficiency Maine is looking for copycats. You?


Peter Garrett


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