‘Heat Squad’ helps renovate 1791 farmhouse for greater energy efficiency

SHOREHAM — In 2015 I decided that the time had come to return to my native state and buy a house in Vermont after 30 years away.
We found the ideal place on Smith Street in Shoreham in a big, old farmhouse built by one of Ethan Allen’s boys in 1791 and expanded over the years into a sprawling monster. The heating bills were crazy. But I heard about the Heat Squad and NeighborWorks of Western Vermont from the friendly folks at Green Mountain Power and invited them in.
The Heat Squad was great. They did a blower test (yikes!), which found that we had 33 air exchanges a day — that means the air inside goes outside almost three dozen times a day. Not good. And they did a full evaluation of what we could do to make this monster more efficient and less leaky. We got a 12-page report. The recommendations were thorough and phased in a way that made sense.
They recommended a wonderful contractor, John MacIntyre at Thistle and Co., to do the insulating, sealing and installation of low-temperature heat pumps to take some of the load off of the oil burners and the boys at Black Diamond to do the foaming. They suggested leasing heat pump hot water heaters from GMP and pointed us to the NeighborWorks loan program — both great suggestions. Heat Squad even helped us make our decision to put in a solar array to power the new HVAC and generate credits to pay for the other improvements.
After the first phase of work Heat Squad came back and did another blower test. The hole in the house was getting smaller and we qualified for a rebate to offset some of the costs incurred. We continued to use the Heat Squad plan and did a second round this fall. We insulated our attic and basement and had Heat Squad back in. This time the blower test showed a 59 percent reduction in air exchange from the first test. Amazing. And again we qualified for a substantial rebate.
By implementing the Heat Squad plan we have reduced our use of fuel oil by more than 60 percent.
I fully support HEAT Squad’s statewide expansion in order to bring affordable energy audits to underserved communities.
Editor’s note: Seth J. Lapidow reached out to the Independentand supplied this story on his own initiative.

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