LINCOLN, Maine — Linda Morrill didn’t know quite how poorly insulated the Lincoln Memorial Library was, but she could tell something was amiss.
“We have to wear sweaters in the wintertime so that we are comfortable with the temperature that we keep the library at,” Mercier said Wednesday. “In the wintertime, when you are shelving the books on the outer wall, and you put your hands on the outer wall, or touch the books that are there, you feel cold.”
That cold probably won’t be quite so pronounced this winter. The Town Council approved spending $18,500 in early September to insulate the library, and the work began on Wednesday. It will take two weeks, said Dan Whittier, Lincoln’s code enforcement officer, who is supervising the work.
Whittier estimates, conservatively, that the work will cut about 800 gallons of No. 2 heating oil from the 2,500 to 3,000 gallons the library burns annually, he said. The insulation work will cost about $15,000, a lower price that Whittier negotiated.
The next phases of the weatherization work will include a review of the library’s heating plant and rebalancing the thermostat zoning, which should produce additional savings, said Whittier, a certified energy assessor who previously taught insulating techniques and insulated hundreds of homes with Penquis, a Bangor-based social service agency.
The building, Morrill said, has no insulation in its side walls and a minimum in its attic spaces, and that minimum amount probably has no impact on the building’s heat loss. In a memo to then-Town Manager Bill Reed, who proposed using Whittier’s energy assessment experience to insulate town buildings, Whittier said that the library’s heating system is “grossly oversized” for the building it heats. The weatherization work is a first step in eventually replacing that system, Whittier said.
At present oil prices, the work will pay for itself in six to eight years — more quickly than that if oil prices rise, Whittier said. A savings of 500 gallons, with oil prices at $3.65 a gallon, would save about $1,825 in the first year, according to a memo Whittier wrote to Reed in June.
The insulation work is not easy, Whittier said. The plaster and lathe library ceiling is deeply curved and the attic provides little space for insulation work. Spray foam insulation is in Whittier’s judgment the best insulation for the most curved portions of the ceiling, which are in the front half of the building. Blown-in cellulose, which is less expensive, will be used in the back half, he said.
The only inconvenience to patrons on Wednesday was the long insulation hose that tracked through the building’s emergency exit up a long ladder that workers used to get into the attic.
Located at 21 West Broadway, the library was built in 1924, with an addition coming 40 years later. Town leaders hope the Public Safety Building can be insulated next. No allocations for that have been approved.
Nick Sambides Jr. was a state-certified weatherization tech trained at Penquis.