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Opinion: Old home gets new lease on life

She is a native Vermonter with roots going back to Samuel de Champlain in 1609. This 68-year-old artist is a 7th generation Vermonter who bought an abandoned house in 1974 to make it her home.
The house is small even with an addition. Built in 1850, it protected the families who lived there for 169 years and was now in need of protection itself. The present home owner could never get warm in the 45 years of living within these walls. There was vermiculite insulation containing asbestos in the attic. The walls had minimal insulation. The duct work was held together with duct tape. Though duct tape is a Vermont tradition it did little to help the heat get where it needed to go. The propane furnace was cracked. She used a wood stove to heat the home most of the time and went through 3 and a half to 4 cords of wood a year. This in combination with 312 gallons of propane did little to keep the 1,200 square feet of living space comfortable. The artist and the home grew together and needed more help to stay together.
The strong woman who lives in this home called CVOEO Weatherization with an assumption that perhaps she could get some help but not expecting a transformation. She answered the first question that simplified eligibility. She was getting Food Stamps.
After filling out an application and waiting her turn (almost a year) on the waiting list, Tim, an efficiency coach, came out to look at her home, educate and switch out all her light bulbs through an energy saving program provided through Efficiency Vermont. Jeremy, CVOEO Weatherization auditor, came next to complete a comprehensive audit. That is when the vermiculite was discovered. Jeremy asked if she was prone to headaches. Having tested her three propane appliances he found that her atmospheric hot water heater was emitting carbon monoxide. Efficiency Vermont teamed up with CVOEO’s health and safety measures and an electric heat pump hot water heater, a new furnace and CO2 monitor were installed.
A contracted crew came to abate the vermiculite in the attic. Through another CVOEO/OEO program she was able to obtain a loan at a 5 to one match in funding and completed some very necessary electrical work. Kevin, Judy and Mark then entered the scene. They insulated and air sealed the attic, installed a bathroom fan, blew three inches of foam around the perimeter and more insulation in the walls, attached the duct work with screws, and framed and installed two doors.
The results: no more headaches, a warm home and a savings of over $500 this past winter in heating costs. “Kind, respectful, hardworking and efficient” is how she described the crew. Larry came to do a quality inspection and this Vermonter and Vermont home are protected for years into the future. And as CVOEO Weatherization says “we are saving the world one home at a time.”
Jan F. Demers is the Executive Director of CVOEO

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