At a special Grange meeting on Aug. 2nd, we got a report from a new member of our Grange community, Bill Chidsey, on his investigations into our heating system. Bill has 40 years of experience in HVAC (heating/ventilating/air conditioning), with a specialization in increasing energy efficiency. He has surveyed the existing furnace and burner, the ductwork and heating distribution system, and the construction and insulation levels of our Grange Hall.
We have lots of things to do to improve our heating efficiency, but we don’t have to start with a new furnace. Bill has a couple of immediate recommendations for making improvements: replace the burner (not the whole furnace) with a more modern, more efficient one (85 % compared to 76%), and install a programmable, digital thermostat. The new thermostat will automatically warm up the Hall before renters arrive, and turn it down when they leave. There will be provisions for short-term changes, but the basic schedule will be maintained–and the thermostat will never be left turned up. He expects that with these two improvements, we will save about a tank of oil every year–which is about $900 or $1000.
Over the longer term, we need to keep making improvements. We have some obvious needs, like sealing the visible gaps around the entrance doors on the south end, the older entrance. We also have less obvious needs–like improving the heating ducts that bring the heat around the building, and return the cooled off air to the furnace to be heated. We can improve overall air-sealing, and improve insulation–especially around the poured-concrete foundation. All of these will improve the efficiency of the whole building, and will reduce the size of the furnace we need–when we finally are ready to do so.
We are grateful that Bill has joined us in this effort, and have agreed to hire him to install the new burner and thermostat. He is confident that the furnace, with a new burner installed and correctly adjusted, will work for us while we make the other improvements. He started on Monday, Aug. 11th, and we’ll have a noticeably improved furnace and control system well before the heating season starts. Once again, the Grange thrives when people pitch in, and we all benefit.