Monday, November 17, 2014


Last winter we used over 5 tons of pellets and a couple hundred gallons of propane.  We were always chilled and in layers.  The pellet stove ran at 7-9 out of 9 with high fan settings, yet we had trouble keeping the house at 61.  No fun at all.  Good for knitting but really......

So last spring we qualified for a NYSERDA energy audit.  We chose Snug Planet because they're local and we'd heard good things about them.  They're professional yet friendly and very communicative.  It was quite the experience to watch them analyze the house by putting fans and barriers on the doors to donning a bunny suit and climbing up into the crawl space above the LR/DR areas.  The results and photos showed that the space above the LR/DR was sorely in need of new insulation.  20 years ago we put 12 inches of batting up there and thought that was plenty.  Well in that time the squirrels made the space into a hotel, packing the insulation in many places down to an inch or so.  No wonder we were cold.  No wonder we had monster sized icicles hanging off our roof and gutters.  They gave us an estimate for the reinsulation but we didn't qualify for a discounted installation. $4000 - 5000 is a lot of money and would take many years to actualize in heating savings.  hmmmmnnnnnn

So Jim looked into it.  Lo and behold, Home Depot carries the cellulose with added boric acid as a fire retardant. It's a squirrel deterrent as well.  AND they give you the use of the shredder/blower machine free for 24 hours.  So once the 2 September Fairs (Finger Lakes FF and Southern Adirondack FF) were over  and while we were getting ready for the New England Show, Amelia came over to help us do the deed.

Amelia is Jim's granddaughter.  A bright, interesting, aware, intrepid and courageous young woman.  She's on the Title Nines Jr Roller Derby team and goes to New Roots High School where she's earning A's.
That's Amelia in the middle, at the Ithaca Festival Parade.
Amelia is also Jim's construction assistant when she has time.
For the insulation installation her small size was a big asset.

The night before Jim, Magoo and I went to Home Depot and filled up my CRV and Jim's van with the blower and lots of bales of cellulose plus bunny suits and masks.

Then on Saturday we got to work.  It took us about an hour to set it all up.
Magoo helping Amelia.

Those masks are so good but awkward too.

We elected for Jim to stay in the driveway and feed the machine.
That way we didn't have to move the bales very far, just the 100 feet of hosing. The hose went down the steps and then up 2 stories into my bedroom.

I got to be in charge of the hosing and any extraneous needs.
That's the hole Jim cut into the wall of my bedroom. He hung
a light to help us see what was happening in the crawl space.

And in she goes!

Gosh that stuff is dusty.

Amelia felt that not wearing gloves would be easier for her.
She wanted to be able to feel her way in the dark and dust.
She had to stay on boards over the old insulation and move them 
forward and backward as she went into the space to the ends and edges. 

That stuff sticks to everything, including old cobwebs.

The cellulose we purchased is actually shredded used newspapers.
Wearing face masks was imperative as clouds of fine particles of inked paper soon looked like half the air in the room as well as in the crawl space.
There are no more pics as the air was just too thick to see anything.
It took us (well mostly Amelia) an hour to get the space filled to about 12-15 inches of cellulose.

Then Amelia backed out.  
I washed any exposed parts of her face 
and sent her to the shower to take off the bunny suit and wash her hair and body.
Me too.

We then loaded any unused bales and the shredder back into our vehicles and off we went to town.
The next day Jim closed up the opening.
It took us several days of wet dusting to get the minute particles 
of cellulose off surfaces and out of cracks in that room.

Cost was $300 instead of $4000-5000.
All told the time was probably 6 hours with prep and cleanup.
We've had some fairly cold days & nights with wind and snow already this month.
The pellet stove remains on very low and the fan on low as well.
The house is easily staying at 64-68 degrees.
We have not yet used the propane for back up heating.

At this rate we'll recoup the cost very soon in propane savings alone.
And it feels good too to have done it ourselves.

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