November 14, 2011

Maine residents using less heating oil

Energy efficiency and fuel alternatives help Maine significantly cut its heating oil use.

By Tux Turkel
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

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Mark Mowatt in his basement, where foam insulation has helped to make the 90-year-old Portland home more energy efficient. He also installed a new furnace. The energy upgrades were partly paid for by tax rebates.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

Located in Portland, Mowatt's 90-year-old home was so leaky he could feel a breeze blowing inside with the doors and windows shut. A year ago, he signed up for a whole-house weatherization program administered by Efficiency Maine.

Following a professional energy audit, Mowatt had the walls and attic insulated, the rim joist sealed and a new furnace installed.

The project cost $10,000, but oil consumption dropped in half last winter, to less than 400 gallons. Comfort is an added bonus.

"Otherwise," Mowatt said, "we'd still be sitting here with jackets on in the fall, trying to stay warm."

But officials know it is more challenging to accomplish further, deep reductions across Maine's housing stock.

The federal EIA winter heating forecast is projecting that consumption in the Northeast will fall by 1 percent, based simply on rising prices.

Fletcher of the state energy office believes it's possible for Maine to do more, and trim overall heating oil consumption by 5 percent a year.

"The technology is there and people are motivated," he said.

Some of that motivation could be tempered, though, by the expiration of government incentives that helped pay for upgrades like those done at Mowatt's house.

Rebates are used up for Efficiency Maine's home energy savings program, but the effort reached 3,200 households. The work on average cost $8,800 per home, with two-thirds paid by the homeowner and one-third by government incentives. The work cut energy use by 40 percent, on average.

The agency now is encouraging residents to pursue so-called PACE loans, which are tied to the upgraded property.

Despite rising oil prices, many Mainers still live in old homes with few energy improvements, according to Dana Fischer, residential program manager at Efficiency Maine.

"We have barely scratched the surface," he said. "There are thousands of homes out there with no insulation at all."

Staff Writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Mark Mowatt of Portland cut his oil use in half with a big weatherization effort on his Bradley Street home. Mowatt had the walls and attic insulated, the rim joist sealed and a new furnace installed at a cost of $10,000.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer


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