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Rand’s Hardware is Doing it Big in Plymouth NH

Steve Rand, at Rand’s Do it Best Hardware in Plymouth, New Hampshire, could teach a course on fitting up old buildings for energy efficiency. He got a lot of experience refitting the building his hardware store is in.

In addition to the hardware store, the building has two other businesses and eight apartments. The main part was constructed in 1922, and additions were made in 1935 and 1946, each according to practices of its time. It was changed and upgraded over the years, and some of the additions complicated things. For example, removing an air conditioner on the roof required a crane.

He started with an energy audit, by Better Buildings New Hampshire, which assists New Hampshire homes and businesses with energy efficiency. More help came from the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative (PAREI). Steve says Better Buildings and PAREI eased the paperwork problems, and made it possible to undertake a many-faceted project all at one time.

Solar hot water was just one part of the project. Based on recommendations of PAREI and Better Buildings, repairs were done to the roof, new skylights were installed, new insulation was added, resealing was done, new storefront glass was installed, the furnace was replaced, advanced boiler controls and programmable thermostats were installed, lighting was improved. And, of course, the building got solar hot water.

The whole should provide $7794 savings for heat and power each year, with a payback period of 7.7 years.

The eight apartments and three businesses in the building require a lot of hot water. With a good site and no sun interference, an evacuated tube solar hot water can provide all of it during the summer, though some auxiliary water heating may be necessary at other times.

PAREI and the Better Buildings program helped with rebates and incentives that were available from the State of New Hampshire, Better Buildings, NHEC and the Federal Tax Credit. Better Buildings program also helped with low-cost financing, subsidized through the Community Development Finance Authority. The project was able to get a loan for all the money needed, including the solar hot water, through Meredith Village Savings Bank.

Steve sees more to come. “We’ll be looking for a chance to install PV’s to our Railroad Square building when the price, including incentives are right to attain a neutral cash flow after financing,” he says. “This will probably happen as the scale of PV manufacture increases to bring prices down and as the price of alternative fuels rise.”

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