Belfast Farmers Invest in Energy Efficiency

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Tue, 05/10/2016 - 8:45am

Energy Efficiency Case Study: Belfast, Maine

Evergreen Home Performance has helped hundreds of homeowners make their homes more comfortable and energy efficient. Learn how this Belfast, Maine family transformed their energy hog into a comfortable, sustainable home. Then contact Evergreen Home Performance at 594-2244 for your FREE energy-smart consult and discover how you can gain comfort and cut costs in your home!

The House
The sheer scale of this 4200 square-foot house featured prominently in the discussion of comfort and energy efficiency. Until it changed hands in 2014, a single occupant turned the heat way down in the 1840s home and still spent more than $9000 on oil every year.

The Homeowners
After raising their own produce and eggs in Vermont and experimenting with market gardening in urban Salt Lake City, Daisy and Angus found the perfect place for Daiychain Farm in Angus’ home state of Maine. Their 64 acres in Belfast came with a huge old house and plenty of room for them to settle in with their toddlers and Angus’ parents, and Angus’ aunt, who spends every summer at the farm. They needed enough space for a family of 7 but didn’t want to spend a fortune heating that space, and they wanted to get the house off oil.

“We want this farmhouse to be energy efficient and affordable to heat for us and for the next generation of farmers,” says Daisy. “We are building up the soils of the farm to produce food for the long haul, and it only makes sense to prepare the house for its part in the farm's future, too.”

The Analysis
As soon as they moved in, Daisy and Angus asked Evergreen to help them save energy and money and to improve comfort in a house characterized by generous proportions, spendy oil heat, and unpleasant basement moisture and odors. Energy Advisor Ham Niles identified air leaks and spotty insulation, and
blower-door testing showed that the house was 3.4 times leakier than required by healthy ventilation standards. This uncontrolled exchange of interior and exterior air meant that the house had to be heated from scratch every 71 minutes, driving up fuel costs and keeping the house uncomfortably cold.

The Project
Happily, most surfaces in the home had some insulation and the heating system wasn’t terribly antiquated.  Ham recommended that improvements focus on air sealing and insulating those surfaces that had been uninsulated and installing vapor-barrier in the dampest crawlspace.  In the attic, insulating the rafter slopes rather than the attic floor allowed the family to claim additional living space and essentially created a bigger house that is less energy intensive.

The Results
"We take a very long view about the sustainability of this farm and are investing accordingly,” says Daisy. Their significant investment delivered significant results: Evergreen’s efforts cut air leakage by almost a third and cut oil consumption in half.