Freedom energy audit report released


October 27, 2011
FREEDOM— In this slowed economy and with rising fuel prices, budget makers in area towns are looking at ways to cut energy costs. Selectmen in Ossipee sought out an energy audit of all the town-owned buildings and got approval from voters to have their town hall insulated. West Ossipee Fire Precinct Commissioners recently received suggestions from the electric company on ways to make their main fire station more energy efficient. The county delegation approved spending money to replace all the lighting in the county administration building with energy efficient, sensor-controlled lighting and a pellet boiler system, partially funded by a grant, will heat the new nursing home. The Effingham Town Office will soon have new energy efficient windows in its meeting room.

Freedom voters can see how their town-owned buildings rate in energy efficiency and what steps are suggested to improve. The town recently released the energy audit completed Sept. 1 by Peregrine Energy Group, Inc. of Boston and Henry Harvey, Jr., P.E. The audit was funded through the NH Office of Energy and Planning "Energy and Technical Assistance Planning Program (ETAP).

The report estimates that if the recommendations are implemented at the elementary school, town offices, town hall and town garage, the initial cost will be $101,000 and as a result, $14,500 can be saved annually in energy costs.

The report details the average energy usage for the town buildings. With the town's custodian checking the thermostat at the town hall every night to be sure it is turned down and with the installation of plastic on the windows during winter, the fuel usage for heating that building has been greatly reduced, according to the report. According to a graph in the report, heating oil usage went from about 2,300 gallons in the 2008-09 heating season to about 750 gallons in the 2010-11 season.

Of all the town buildings – and probably no surprise to town officials – the town office building is in need of the most energy improvements. "This building is expensive to operate on a square foot basis, and more importantly, it's not comfortable to work in. In order to bring it up to modern standards of comfort and efficiency, a comprehensive energy retrofit is recommended, including air sealing, wall and attic insulation, and replacement windows. These various items could be addressed piecemeal, but it would be most effective to do the work as a package. Given the loose construction and probable high rate of air leakage, it would be optimal if the work included thicker walls with an air barrier and increased insulation. Likewise, although the existing furnace is capable of heating the building, it is inefficient. Since it would be is awkward to re-route the ductwork, it would be logical to install a new hot water system in conjunction with making the envelope improvements we suggest," the report finds.

The town office building "built in 1895 as a school, this is a wood framed building on two floors with attic and crawlspace. It has provided offices for the town clerk and administrator, a meeting room for the selectman, and a two-room police station since 1983. The gross area on the two floors is 2,788 square feet. The building is open from about 7:30 am to 4:00 pm Monday through Friday, as well as Saturday mornings and about two evenings per week," according to the report.

At the March 2011 Town Meeting, voters approved expanding the town's fire department to include space for the police department after having shot down the idea of putting the fire, police, and administrative functions all under one roof. The town offices will remain at their current location. The public safety building expansion is expected to be completed later this year.

The audit recommends upgrading the insulation, replacing the furnace and water heater, and upgrading the lighting to more energy efficient fixtures in the town office building.

Town Hall

The Town Hall was built in 1889 and is similar to the Town Offices building in construction, but is twice as big at 5,843 square feet of floor area. Most of the town boards and committees, and some clubs, hold their meetings here. Other Town Hall events include dances, classes, church suppers, wedding receptions, etc. The first floor has an entry lobby, a large room that can function as a dining room, and a kitchen. The second floor has a larger space with a stage for dances and theater productions. In general the building is used for a part of the day almost every day, all year. There are a total of four stairways between the first and second floor, as well as an elevator, according to the report.

For the Town Hall, the audit praises the efforts of town staff to keep costs down while suggesting improvements to further cut energy costs including installation of programmable thermostats and storm windows, insulating the water pipes and crawl space, and upgrading the light fixtures.

Library

The town's library is the most energy efficient of the group. The library consists of an older section built by Sears and Roebuck in the 1930s with a reading room and basement and a 2001 addition that has a basement level for book stacks, and a first floor with circulation desk and reading areas. Beyond checking for sources of possible air leaks and consideration of light fixture sensors, little was recommended for this building.

Town garage

The report recommends upgrading the lighting, insulating the attic and hot water pipes, and replacing the water heater in the 3,000 garage building. The audit also recommends using heating oil for heating the building instead of diesel fuel which is more expensive.

Elementary School

The 25,000 square foot school was built in three phases with the first in 1983 then additions in 1988 and 2002. There are currently 95 students enrolled in the school. There were several problems noted in the 2002 addition, including no insulation in the east and north sides of the gym – which could explain ice dams that frequently occur in this addition, according to the report. The report recommends checking and installing necessary insulation in all sections of the school, upgrading lighting fixtures and replacing the windows in the 1983 section as well as upgrading the air handler in the gym.

The full report can be found on the town's website at www.townoffreedomnh.net or at the town office.

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