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Weybridge homeowner steps up to save energy

WEYBRIDGE — Phil Heitkamp is a carpenter from Weybridge, but he had never done a complete home weatherization project before this fall. Heitkamp heard about the Vermont Home Energy Challenge and realized that he wanted to improve the energy efficiency of his own 1830s home. 
Although he had made a lot of energy improvements over the years, he had never had an official energy audit. What the energy auditor found after doing a blower door test was that there was room for improvement in the basement, one of the bedrooms, and in an attic over an attached shed. The auditor estimated that Heitkamp could reduce air leakage in the home by around 20 percent.
Knowing he had the skills to do the work, Heitkamp purchased $1,700 worth of materials and set to work at the end of September. He first sealed up any air leaks he could find in the basement and attic. He insulated the inside of the basement walls two feet down from the top of the wall using an ingenious method to hold the rigid insulation board in place. He then insulated the parts of the attic where the fiberglass insulation had shifted or was non-existent. He also insulated his hot water heater, water pipes, attic hatch and cellar door.
Heitkamp completed the work the first week of November and called his energy auditor back for a test-out. The final test showed that Heitkamp had reduced air leakage by 24 percent with a corresponding estimated reduction in fuel bills. 
Because Heitkamp went the official route, working with a certified energy auditor, he qualifies for financial incentives of $796.50 from Efficiency Vermont, plus a special $500 bonus put into place for this year’s Vermont Home Energy Challenge. With his incentives, and the energy savings he can expect, Heitkamp will have paid back his original investment of $1,700 within a little over one year.
Heitkamp believes that anyone who is handy with tools could do at least some weatherization work. There is support from Efficiency Vermont for Do-It-Yourselfers, including workshops and written materials.
When asked about his project, he said, “It was fun, really. The biggest benefit will be that we will save a lot on heat. We were burning two cords of wood and about 500 gallons of fuel oil per winter. This work will make a big difference to us.”

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