Two years ago, Andover became the easternmost town in the Vital Communities/NH Saves regional effort to weatherize houses. The program and its benefits are again available to Andover residents; coincidentally, the city of Concord has just begun its own Weatherize initiative.
In case you’ve forgotten, NH Saves is a long-standing program funded by the state’s electric and gas utilities to subsidize energy audits, which seek out places where heat or electricity is being wasted and then offer programs to reduce the waste. NH Saves then provides grants and rebates to help cover costs, as well as offers suggestions and support on getting started. Below you’ll find one family’s happy experience with the 2019 program.
“You mean this process might tighten up our old house, and we’d get a rebate on the work from the power company? What’s to lose, let’s do it!”
The first step in the spring of 2019 was to go online and fill out an application/survey about our house. How much oil we used, how much wood we burned in the wood stove, and the amount of our electric bill were the factors taken into consideration for eligibility in the NH Saves program.
All of the above information was readily available, either from our monthly bills, online, or from friendly conversations with the power and oil companies. Once our eligibility was confirmed, we proceeded to the next step.
After contacting Quality Insulation of Meredith (one of three companies vetted by Vital Communities/NH Saves) and setting up an appointment for a home visit, Mom and I eagerly awaited their arrival. Will toured the house with us, testing for drafts and cold spots in walls and around doors, and peering into the basement crawl spaces.
It didn’t take long for him to make his assessment: insulate from the inside the outside walls of the basement, including floors and ceilings, then insulate from the outside the newer parts of the house. It turned out that the original (1798) house, an old school, was by far the most well-sealed against the winter winds and summer damps.
“However,” said he, “you really have to get all that junk and detritus out of the basement first.”
“No problem,” said I; “enter the Ghostbusters!” Well, that’s what we looked like, my sister and I, in Tyvek suits, wool hats, headlamps, face masks, goggles, and knee pads.
The only standing room section was where the furnace, oil tank, water heater, and well pump were located; the rest of the square footage was definitely crawl space. We’re talking three feet decreasing to 18 inches, soldier-crawl style, elbows first. Honestly? It was a blast, as we threw all kinds of stuff out behind us and gradually cleared the spaces.
Two weeks later, the first team arrived to spray foam all of those underground spaces, while Mom and I kept ourselves occupied out of the house for 24 hours. How the two fullback-sized men completed their task remains a mystery, but they were successful.
They also laid down a heavy-duty plastic vapor barrier on the floors, some of which were concrete but most consisting only of dirt and gravel.
Another two weeks later, the second team showed up to do the outside work. Pulling out miles of hose from the van, they worked their way around the house, drilling muffin-sized holes in a line of clapboards about two feet apart and four feet up and then blowing in cellulose to fill in the uninsulated gaps. After they carefully inserted the drilled plugs back into the clapboards and let the van suck in those miles of hose, they bade us farewell.
The humor came from watching them tiptoe around the flowers as they made careful efforts not to disturb any plantings close to the house walls – and succeeded.
And the result? We now have a completely dry and odorless basement, even with a French drain. The old schoolroom remains warm, and now the additional rooms are warmer and not at all drafty.
The total cost was $7,920.83, but after a $4,000 rebate from NHEC, in this case, we feel we did quite well. All air sealing was covered in the NH Saves rebate program.
To get started in this year’s offerings and for information on Weatherization programs through New Hampshire Saves, go to NHsaves.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or solutions@nullNHEC.com (or your local utility company).