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Community Climate Hero- Bedford Historical Society

October’s climate hero is Lynn Ryan, Executive Director of the Bedford Historical Society since 2001. Lynn reached out to Bob, our Energy Coach, in July of this year, to help find ways to reduce energy waste at the Bedford Historical Society properties and to move those properties off of oil as heating fuel. Bedford 2030 applauds Lynn for taking this exciting step forward for several of our community’s most important buildings. 

Bob met with Lynn at the Bedford Post Office and the Historical House to evaluate the buildings’ heating and cooling systems. The goal Lynn and Bob hoped to achieve was reviewing the existing equipment, available space and balancing updating that equipment while maintaining the historic nature of the buildings. Their consultation will provide insight into potential energy upgrades for other historical properties. 

With seven buildings to heat and cool, we needed some good counsel on saving energy wherever we could – We reached out to Bedford 2030 for advice and set up a meeting with an energy coach. It was a great first step. We learned things we could do immediately and began discussions on how to reduce usage of fossil fuels in our historic buildings. We hope to implement conversions as each system needs to be replaced or upgraded. Bob was a great resource and we look forward to working with him and Bedford 2030 as we move forward with these projects.

Bedford Village Post Office 40 Village Green, Bedford, NY

“The Post Office was originally a harness shop whose proprietor, Benjamin Ambler, was know to the Villagers as “Bach (short for Bachelor) Ben,” and considered a deplorable character because at night he closed the shutters and played cards with his cronies. It has been the Village Post Office since at least 1893.” – Bedford Historical Society



Identify energy leaks

The first building Bob reviewed was the post office. Before even entering the building Bob pointed out the through-wall AC unit. Lynn noted that the unit was no longer functioning and Bob flagged that with the unit in the wall air was fully flowing through the AC into the building (cool air out in summer and hot air out in winter). Sealing that hole would immediately improve the building’s ability to maintain temperature and use less fossil fuels. 

Assess the condition of your equipment

The next step was the basement evaluation. Bob was able to determine the approximate age of the equipment as well as how it worked. So even if you don’t know everything about your system, Bob may be able to guesstimate for you! Bob calculated the approximate amount of heated/cooled air being produced based on the equipment size and model. Bob also noted damage to equipment that was resulting in significant energy loss and he provided product suggestions to fix the damage. Bob also provided recommendations for air source or ground source heat pumps. 

Heat Pumps

There are locations outside the building that are suitable for heat pump installation and located behind the building so as not to affect the aesthetics of this beautiful piece of history. The building would also benefit from a heat pump for hot water. This would improve heating efficiency up to 400% OR for a building like the post office where the only hot water use is only a few sinks, having individual heating add-ons at each sink would lower costs and energy expenses. (This would only be a solution for buildings with very low hot water usage). 

The presence of insects and animals in the building means that where animals are coming in, air is also leaking out. 

Improving the seals and insulation of the building will save money, increase building comfort and prevent pests from coming in! Because the post office is a historic site and non-profit, heat pump and solar panel costs could be cut in half with available rebates and incentives.

Bedford Village Historical Hall 608 Old Post Road, Bedford, NY

“Moved to its present site in 1837 by twenty yoke of oxen, Historical Hall was the impetus for the founding of the Bedford Historical Society.”

Photo and history courtesy of The Historical Society

Look for Spiders

The first stop in the historical hall was the underground cellar where the boiler and propane heating system are located. Bob pointed out that, fun fact!, spiderwebs are a sign of air leakage because spiders build webs around entrances from the home exterior to interior. Lots of spider webs implies gaps and exits for air. 

Check insulation

Next up was the attic, home of the buildings’ cooling system. Bob suggested several reasons why improving the attic insulation was important. 

  1. The sun beats down on the attic and if it is not insulated probably all that heat gets inside the home and travels through the rest of the building. 
  2. The cooling system is located in the very hot attic so the AC is working twice as hard to cool the space because it is combating temperatures in the 120s or 140s. 
  3. The attic is used for a lot of storage so people are often entering and exiting the room. Increasing the need for proper insulation will decrease the significant temperate difference between the attic and the conditioned space. 

Overall Energy Coach Takeaway

  • Our energy coach provided advice specific to Lynn and the Historical Society’s needs based on their buildings and homes. This is so important because every building is different. 
  • You don’t need to be an expert on your heating and cooling system, Bob is the expert here to help!
  • The consult goal is not to force you to instantly switch to zero-emissions, but to discuss all your options and help you find accessible affordable and practical ways to decrease your emissions, save money and to improve you and your building’s health!

The Bedford 2030 Energy Coach is a free service to help community members save money & energy. Energy consults are conducted over Zoom and last 45 – 60 minutes in length. Prior to scheduling your call, clients fill out a pre-meeting survey found here and you’ll receive a link to schedule your call based on a time that is best for you. Be prepared to ask questions such as:

  • How can I make my apartment or home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer based on my budget?
  • Do I need an energy audit? How do I get one?
  • What do I do after I get my energy audit?
  • Are there things I can do myself to cut energy use and save money?
  • Are heat pumps right for me?