Terry Martin, a local builder from Shrewsbury VT and Eric Solsaa, of Solsaa Energy Solutions of Rutland, Vt, teamed up to do a test on Mr. Martin’s 4-unit apt. building in Rutland. The Infrared scanning and blower door tests revealed many areas to be addressed, that Solsaa and crew attended to. This included insulating his basement and attic. Martin opted for blown in cellulose for the attic that was both cost effective and allowed them to achieve a high R-value. Terry Martin attended to the air sealing of the building. Solsaa did the insulating.
Usual basement insulation recommended in this climate is spray applied foam. However, with this homes construction, they discovered that there was a double brick foundation sitting on top of a rock and mortar foundation. In the Rutland area, this is known to be a common construction practice. As a consequence, insulating on top of the brick for the interior would be putting the foam in the wrong place. Removing all of the interior brick to get it out to the exterior would be both time consuming as well as costly. Solsaa Energy Solutions offers an innovative answer that works well – a process that uses ‘Blown-in Rock Wool Insulation. This product has a relative high R-value of 4 per inch. In this application, they dense pack it to create a descent air barrier in the process. Rock wool, in humid areas like basements, does not create a problem as can occur with cellulose. Rock wool is rock itself and will not absorb moisture or support mold growth. In this basement, the wall cavities were anywhere from 5” to 9” giving an excellent insulated wall R-value. This is great, in itself, but it is even better at making the wall attain a higher performance, because now the Furnace is heating the interior mass of brick and rock with the Furnace ducts and is radiating that back in to the building! The result actually turned a literal wind tunnel of a basement into a warm basement which is now also keeping the floors above warm, as if a wood stove was running in the basement.
What made this project exceptional was that Terry has been supplementing his oil by burning used veggie oil for years! By safely cutting the oil 30%, it was only compromised by having to change an additional filter- twice a year and an additive to his tank to stop organic growth. The boiler tech claims “the veggie grease acts as a lubricant to the fire box and makes semi-yearly cleanings easier as the hard scale that is usually deposited in an oil fired boiler burn box and has to be scraped off just slides right off”.
Martin gets his oil from a local eatery and has found that letting it sit, so the particulates can fall to the bottom of his jugs, serves to be a pre-filter for the system. Total oil used last year was 1450 gallons, 350 of which was grease. After air sealing, adding insulation to the attic and having the blown in Rock Wool to the basement, he has only burned 700 in Oil and 200 in grease to date, showing their test to have staggering results and passing with flying colors!